On this day, 5th January 1922, Ernest Shackleton, died.
Sir Ernest Shackleton was an Antarctic explorer, best known for leading the ’Endurance’ expedition of 1914-16.
Ernest Henry Shackleton was born on 15 February 1874 in Ireland but his family moved to London where Shackleton was educated. He joined the merchant navy when he was 16 and qualified as a master mariner in 1898.
In 1901, Shackleton was chosen to go on the Antarctic expedition led by British naval officer Robert Falcon Scott on the ship ‘Discovery’. The team trekked towards the South Pole in extremely difficult conditions, getting closer to the Pole than anyone had come before. Shackleton became seriously ill and had to return home.
In 1908, he returned to the Antarctic as the leader of his own expedition, on the ship 'Nimrod’. During the expedition, his team climbed Mount Erebus, made many important scientific discoveries and set a record by coming even closer to the South Pole than before. Shackleton was knighted on his return to Britain.
In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole, followed by Scott who died on the return journey. In 1914, Shackleton made his third trip to the Antarctic with the ship 'Endurance’, planning to cross Antarctica via the South Pole. Early in 1915, ’Endurance’ became trapped in the ice, and ten months later sank. Shackleton’s crew had already abandoned the ship to live on the floating ice. In April 1916, they set off in three small boats, eventually reaching Elephant Island. Taking five crew members, Shackleton went to find help. In a small boat, the six men spent 16 days crossing 1,300 km of ocean to reach South Georgia and then trekked across the island to a whaling station. The remaining men from the 'Endurance’ were rescued in August 1916. Not one member of the expedition died. Shackleton’s account of the 'Endurance’ expedition, South was published in 1919. The State Library of New South Wales holds a number of editions of this book, including first editions.
Shackleton’s fourth expedition aimed to circumnavigate the Antarctic continent but on 5 January 1922, Shackleton died of a heart attack off South Georgia and he was buried on the island.
The State Library of New South Wales holds collections of photographs depicting Shackleton’s expeditions, including these taken by photographer Frank Hurley. Photographs of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s trans-Antarctic expedition in the
'Endurance’, ca. 1914-1917