London: William Heinemann, 1909. [Polar exploration] FIRST EDITION. Two volumes, quarto (24 x 18cm), pp.xlviii; 372; pp.xvi; 419; . Portrait of E. H. Shackleton as frontispiece to first volume, with portrait of the Northern Party at the South Magnetic Pole to second volume. Both are protected with captioned tissue guards. Generously illustrated throughout with photographic plates and diagrams, in addition to several plates in colour. Publisher's navy blue cloth with with gilt lettering to spine, blocked in silver to front covers, folding maps in pouch at rear of vol. II, top edge gilt, others untrimmed. Neat ink ownership to flyleaf, light spotting, binding a little handled and worn, spine a little sunned. A very good, useable copy in the original cloth. A comprehensive work, filled with a mass of maps, photographs and sketches which chronicle the expedition. This item truly embodies the golden age of polar exploration. Although the expedition team was unable to attain its goal of reaching the South Pole, Shackleton and his companions reached 88° 23' S, a point only 180 kilometres (112 mi) from the Pole. Accomplishments also included: the first ascent of Mount Erebus, the location of the Magnetic South Pole by Douglas Mawson, Edgeworth David and MacKay (January 16, 1909), and the discovery of the Beardmore Glacier passage (named after Shackleton's patron). The group was the first to cross the Trans-Antarctic mountain range, and to set foot on the South Polar Plateau. Subsisting on half-rations, Shackleton discovered the party's salvation – a letter declaring that Nimrod would sail on February 26, 1909. In response, the crew burnt the camp to attract the departing ship's attention. The plan succeeded, and on March 1, 1909, Shackleton departed for home and returned to the United Kingdom a hero. He was knighted for reaching the furthest south of any human at that time. Regarding the failure to reach the South Pole, Shackleton remarked to his wife: "Better a live donkey than a dead lion.". It would be three more years before Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first to reach the South Pole, followed shortly by Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition. Item #54897
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