The Heart of the Antarctic, Volume 1, E. H. Shackleton
The Heart of the Antarctic, Volume 1
E. H. Shackleton
15:45 h History Lvl 9.38
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was an Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic. He was one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. The "Great Southern Journey", as Frank Wild called it, began on 29 October 1908. On 9 January 1909, Shackleton and three companions—Wild, Eric Marshall and Jameson Adams—reached a new Farthest South latitude of 88° 23' S, a point only 112 miles (180 km) from the Pole. The expedition's other main accomplishments included the first ascent of Mount Erebus, and the discovery of the approximate location of the South Magnetic Pole, reached on 16 January 1909, by Edgeworth David, Douglas Mawson, and Alistair Mackay. Shackleton returned to the United Kingdom as a hero, and soon afterwards published his expedition account, Heart of the Antarctic.

The Heart of the Antarctic


E. H. Shackleton, C.V.O.

Portrait of E. H. Shackleton


THE scientific results of the expedition cannot be stated in detail in this book. The expert members in each branch have contributed to the appendices articles which summarise what has been done in the domains of geology, biology, magnetism, meteorology, physics, &c. I will simply indicate here some of the more important features of the geographical work.

We passed the winter of 1908 in McMurdo Sound, twenty miles north of the Discovery winter quarters. In the autumn a party ascended Mount Erebus and surveyed its various craters. In the spring and summer of 1908-9 three sledging-parties left winter quarters; one went south and attained the most southerly latitude ever reached by man, another reached the South Magnetic Pole for the first time, and a third surveyed the mountain ranges west of McMurdo Sound.

The southern sledge-journey planted the Union Jack in latitude 88° 23' South, within one hundred geographical miles of the South Pole. This party of four ascertained that a great chain of mountains extends from the 82nd parallel, south of McMurdo Sound, to the 86th parallel, trending in a south-easterly direction; that other great mountain ranges continue to the south and south-west, and that between them flows one of the largest glaciers in the world, leading to an inland plateau, the height of which, at latitude 88° South, is over 11,000 ft. above sea-level. This plateau presumably continues beyond the geographical South Pole, and extends from Cape Adare to the Pole. The bearings and angles of the new southern mountains and of the great glacier are shown on the chart, and are as nearly correct as can be expected in view of the somewhat rough methods necessarily employed in making the survey.

The mystery of the Great Ice Barrier has not been solved, and it would seem that the question of its formation and extent cannot be determined definitely until an expedition traces the line of the mountains round its southerly edge. A certain amount of light has been thrown on the construction of the Barrier, in that we were able, from observations and measurements, to conclude provisionally that it is composed mainly of snow. The disappearance of Balloon Bight, owing to the breaking away of a section of the Great Ice Barrier, shows that the Barrier still continues its recession, which has been observed since the voyage of Sir James Ross in 1842. There certainly appears to be a high snow-covered land on the 163rd meridian, where we saw slopes and peaks, entirely snow-covered, rising to a height of 800 ft., but we did not see any bare rocks, and did not have an opportunity to take soundings at this spot. We could not arrive at any definite conclusion on the point.

The journey made by the Northern Party resulted in the attainment of the South Magnetic Pole, the position of which was fixed, by observations made on the spot and in the neighbourhood, at latitude 72° 25' South, longitude 155° 16' East. The first part of this journey was made along the coastline of Victoria Land, and many new peaks, glaciers and ice-tongues were discovered, in addition to a couple of small islands. The whole of the coast traversed was carefully triangulated, and the existing map was corrected in several respects.

The survey of the western mountains by the Western Party added to the information of the topographical details of that part of Victoria Land, and threw some new light on its geology.

The discovery of forty-five miles of new coastline extending from Cape North, first in a south-westerly and then in a westerly direction, was another important piece of geographical work.

During the homeward voyage of the Nimrod a careful search strengthened that prevalent idea that Emerald Island, the Nimrod Islands and Dougherty Island do not exist, but I would not advise their removal from the chart without further investigation. There is a remote possibility that they lie at some point in the neighbourhood of their charted positions, and it is safer to have them charted until their non-existence has been proved absolutely.

I should like to tender my warmest thanks to those generous people who supported the expedition in its early days. Miss Dawson Lambton and Miss E. Dawson Lambton made possible the first steps towards the organisation of the expedition, and assisted afterwards in every way that lay in their power. Mr. William Beardmore (Parkhead, Glasgow), Mr. G. A. McLean Buckley (New Zealand), Mr. Campbell McKellar (London), Mr. Sydney Lysaght (Somerset), Mr. A. M. Fry (Bristol), Colonel Alexander Davis (London), Mr. William Bell (Pendell Court, Surrey), Mr. H. H. Bartlett (London), and other friends contributed liberally towards the cost of the expedition. I wish also to thank the people who guaranteed a large part of the necessary expenditure, and the Imperial Government for the grant of £20,000, which enabled me to redeem these guarantees. Sir James Mills, managing director of the Union Steam Shipping Company of New Zealand, gave very valuable assistance. The kindness and generosity of the Governments and people of Australia and New Zealand will remain one of the happiest memories of the expedition.

I am also indebted to the firms which presented supplies of various sorts, and to the manufacturers who so readily assisted in the matter of ensuring the highest quality and purity in our foods.

As regards the production of this book, I am indebted to Dr. Hugh Robert Mill for the introduction which he has written; to Mr. Edward Saunders, of New Zealand, who not only acted as my secretary in the writing of the book, but bore a great deal of the labour, advised me on literary points and gave general assistance that was invaluable; and to my publisher, Mr. William Heinemann, for much help and many kindnesses.

I have to thank the members of the expedition who have provided the scientific appendices. I should like to make special mention of Professor T. W. Edgeworth David, who has told the story of the Northern Journey, and Mr. George Marston, the artist of the expedition, represented in this volume by the colour plates, sketches and some diagrams.

I have drawn on the diaries of various members of the expedition to supply information regarding events that occurred while I was absent on journeys. The photographs with which these volumes are illustrated have been selected from some thousands taken by Brocklehurst, David, Davis, Day, Dunlop, Harbord, Joyce, Mackintosh, Marshall, Mawson, Murray and Wild, secured often under circumstances of exceptional difficulty.

In regard to the management of the affairs of the expedition during my absence in the Antarctic, I would like to acknowledge the work done for me by my brother-in-law, Mr. Herbert Dorman, of London; by Mr. J. J. Kinsey, of Christchurch, New Zealand; and by Mr. Alfred Reid, the manager of the expedition, whose work throughout has been as arduous as it has been efficient.

Finally, let me say that to the members of the expedition, whose work and enthusiasm have been the means of securing the measure of success recorded in these pages, I owe a debt of gratitude that I can hardly find words to express. I realise very fully that without their faithful service and loyal co-operation under conditions of extreme difficulty success in any branch of our work would have been impossible.

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