This BMJ column (subscription required) discusses the versatile Australian W A Osborne and includes a reference to Robert Falcon Scott, two 19th Century types – the polymath and the English explorer – I always find so interesting:
If there is a single law of literary life, it is that nit pickers will have their own nits picked. My copy of Essays and Studies by W A Osborne establishes this clearly. Osborne (1873-1967) was professor of physiology at the University of Melbourne. Born of a Presbyterian clergyman in County Down, he was a rationalist with a particular dislike of Catholicism. He was an expert in nutrition, and advised Captain Scott before his ill fated Antarctic mission. Scott did not take his advice, however, with unfortunate results.Osborne was also a literary scholar of distinction, speaking several languages fluently. He was undecided whether to take the chair of physiology or that of English, and perhaps preferred literary studies to scientific ones. He was always disappointed not to be elected to the Royal Society and that he received no decorations.