Edward Adrian Wilson BA, MB (Cantab.), FZS was born in Cheltenham on 23 July 1872. He was educated at Cheltenham College, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and St George's Hospital, becoming a highly regarded self-taught artist and field naturalist.
Wilson accompanied Robert Scott on both his celebrated Antarctic voyages: the Discovery Expedition of 1901-1904 and the Terra Nova Expedition of 1910-1913. Contracting tuberculosis from his mission work in London slums, he nevertheless recovered to be appointed as the assistant surgeon and vertebrate zoologist to the British National Antarctic Expedition (1901-1904) aboard Discovery. It was on this expedition that, accompanying Scott and Ernest Shackleton, they set a new Furthest South on 30 December 1902.
The last major exploration artist
When Wilson returned from the expedition he was selected as field observer for the Grouse Disease Inquiry. In 1910 he returned to the Antarctic with Captain Scott aboard Terra Nova as Chief of Scientific Staff and reached the South Pole with Scott, Lawrence Oates, Henry Robertson Bowers and Edgar Evans on 18 January 1912. They arrived there four weeks after the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. Wilson and his four companions died on the return journey.
Despite being trained as a physician, Wilson was also a skilled artist. He illustrated both expeditions with lavish drawing and paintings. As the science of photography developed, cameras became a more reliable method for documenting expeditions. Wilson was the last major exploration artist.