Watkins' Last Expedition

With An Introduction By Augustine Courtauld

CHAPMAN, F. Spencer

CHAPMAN, F. Spencer Watkins' Last Expedition With An Introduction By Augustine Courtauld

Chatto & Windus, 1934.

First edition. 8vo. Original publisher's green cloth, lettered in gilt on the spine. Top edge green. In the rare pictorial dustwrapper showing a wraparound photographic Arctic scene. Forty-eight photographs plates, one inset map of the expedition's route, and a large folding map of their sledging routes. A near fine copy, bright and clean with some foxing to the page edges only, in a very good dustwrapper indeed, which has a little wear and abrasion to the spine and a crease to the lower panel. This notwithstanding, an attractive example in an uncommon dustwrapper.

The account of the remarkable young explorer Gino Watkins's fatal East Greenland Expedition, the sequel to his hugely successful British Arctic Air Route Expedition of 1930-1, and the fourth expedition he led by the age of twenty-five.
Following his British Arctic Air Route Expedition, Watkins was awarded the Founder's Medal from the Royal Geographical Society, and he and the rest of his team received the Polar Medal, the first to be awarded this honour in sixty years. His youth, he was just aged twenty-four at the time, and his achievements led to international recognition, and he sought to capitalise on this by raising funds for a trans-Antarctic expedition. However, due to the financial impact of the Great Depression he was unable to secure the required capital and had to settle for a return to Greenland in 1932 to continue the work of his previous expedition.
To feed his small team in Greenland Watkins had planned to hunt seals from his kayak, and on the 20th August 1932 he set out alone to hunt in the northern reach of Lake Fjord. Hours later, two of his team discovered his kayak upturned in the water, with its paddle floating nearby. Ann Savours has remarked of this that his companions "carried the empty kayak back to the base, scarcely believing that he could be dead" (ODNB).
Watkins's body was never found, and rightly so according his his biographer J. M. Scott:
"Gino Watkins had gone from the world in the full pride of his youth and self-sufficiency; gone cleanly out leaving no relic of mortality; leaving only the memory of a vivid life and a bright inspiration … it was right that none should see him dead."

Stock ID: 40261


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