Maxime Lester

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British Expedition to Graham Land, 1920-1922 (leader John Lachlan Cope) the first voyage of the RRS William Scoresby (1926-1927) during the Discovery Investigations, 1925-1951 and correspondence by Lester.

Administrative / Biographical History

Maxime Charles Lester was born on 25 September 1891. He joined the Merchant Navy, and served in the Canadian and British Navies during the First World War, seeing service in the North Atlantic. He joined the British Expedition to Graham Land, 1920-1922 (leader John Lachlan Cope) and, along with Thomas Wyatt Bagshawe, travelled south in a whaling ship to Deception Island ahead of Cope and second-in-command George Hubert Wilkins. The party transferred to Andvord Bay, on the Danco Coast of Graham Land where they intended to set up a base. However, insufficient finance curtailed the expedition, and Cope and Wilkins withdrew. Lester and Bagshawe decided to remain, setting up a base at Waterboat Point on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula between January 1921 and January 1922. Though ill equipped and with few comforts, they carried out scientific observations, including a study of the breeding biology of the neighbouring gentoo penguins.

Lester returned to the Merchant Navy, but spent more time in Antarctica with the Discovery Investigations, 1926-1927 (Captain George Metcalf Mercer), in RRS William Scoresby. The expedition conducted extensive surveys of the whaling grounds off South Georgia. He died in London on 3 March 1957.


The collection is split into three sub-fonds, covering the two expeditions and correspondence respectively.

Access Information

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author has signed the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to The Polar Record (September 1957) volume 8, number 57, p562 and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7) and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN 0521309034

Other Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying material by photography, electrostat, or scanning device by readers is prohibited. The Institute may be able to provide copies of some documents on request for lodgement in publicly available repositories. This is subject to conservation requirements, copyright law, and payment of fees.

Copyright restrictions apply to most material. The copyright may lie outside the Institute and, if so, it is necessary for the reader to seek appropriate permission to consult, copy, or publish any such material. (The Institute does not seek this permission on behalf of readers). Written permission to publish material subject to the Institute's copyright must be obtained from the Director. Details of conditions and fees may be had from the Archivist.


Further accessions possible.

Related Material

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a number of photographs, film and other illustrative material in the Picture Library, some of which covers the British Expedition to Graham Land, 1920-1922 and the Discovery Investigations. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.