At the age of twenty-four, Apsley Cherry-Garrard was one of the youngest members of the Terra Nova expedition. This was Robert F. Scott's second attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole. Cherry's application to join the expedition was initially rejected as Scott was looking for scientists, but he made a second application along with a promise of £1,000 (equivalent to £103,000 in 2019) towards the cost of the expedition. Rejected a second time, he made the donation regardless. Struck by this gesture, and at the same time persuaded by E.A.Wilson, Scott agreed to take Cherry-Garrard as assistant zoologist.
The expedition arrived in the Antarctic on 4 January 1911.Scott and four companions eventually attained the pole on 17 January 1912, where they found that a Norwegian expedition led by Roald Amundsen had preceded them by 34 days. Scott's entire party died on the return journey from the pole; some of their bodies, journals, and photographs were found by a search party eight months later.
After returning to England, Cherry-Garrard travelled to China and then volunteered to the First World War and commanded a squadron of armoured cars in Flanders. Invalided out in 1916, he suffered from clinical depression as well as ulcerative colitis which had developed shortly after returning from Antarctica. Although his psychological condition was never cured, the explorer was able to treat himself to some extent by writing down his experiences. In 1922, encouraged by his friend George Bernard Shaw, Cherry-Garrard wrote The Worst Journey in the World, his memoir of the incredible 3 years he spent in Antarctica. Over 80 years later this book is still in print and is often cited as a classic of travel literature, having been acclaimed as the greatest true adventure story ever written.