William Gordon Burn Murdoch

1862 - 1939

Artist and explorer. 'WG' was born in Edinburgh and studied at the University of Edinburgh, where he met William Speirs Bruce (1867 - 1921). He completed his education in Antwerp and Paris. Burn-Murdoch joined the Dundee Antarctic Whaling Expedition of 1892-93 as Bruce's assistant, recording the voyage in pictures from their departure from Camperdown Dock in Dundee Harbour. This expedition also gave rise to the first of several books, From Edinburgh to the Antarctic (1894). An enthusiastic piper, he was the first to play the bagpipes in Antarctica. He went on to help Bruce plan the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition of 1902-4, although he did not take part. He also travelled to Spitzbergen, the Arctic, Burma, China and India.

Burn-Murdoch was a good friend of Patrick Geddes and lived at Ramsay Garden. After his marriage to Jane Usher, the daughter of Andrew Usher (1829-98), he moved to at Arthur Lodge in Newington, where he entertained polar explorers such as Roald Amundsen, Fridtjof Nansen and Robert Falcon Scott.

He died in Edinburgh. Cape Burn Murdoch on Laurie Island in the South Orkney Islands is named in his honour. His paintings, included portraits, are held in public collections including the Museum of Scotland, the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock, the McManus Galleries in Dundee, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, together with Perth & Kinross Council and the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.

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