The Heart of the Antarctic

Being the Story of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907 - 1909.



SHACKLETON, Ernest H. The Heart of the Antarctic Being the Story of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907 - 1909.

Heinemann, 1909.

First edition. Two volumes. 4to. Blue cloth with gilt lettering on the spine and silver lettering and illustration to the upper cover. Top edges gilt. With a long presentation inscription from Shackleton for Catherine Eckstein on the front endpaper, "To Catherine Eckstein from her friend Ernest Shackleton, the author, Dec 1909", under which he has added the third verse of Robert Service's 'The Lure Of Little Voices', so popular among heroic age explorers: "They are wanting me they're haunting me They are whining and they're whimpering as if each one had a soul They are calling from the wilderness, the vast and godlike spaces The stark and sullen solitudes that sentinel the Pole". Photogravure frontispieces to each volume; twelve colour plates after paintings by George Marston, all with captioned tissue guards; four double-page photographic plates, 271 photographic illustrations on 195 plates; diagrams, maps, plans & graphs in the text, including nine full-page. Also three folding maps and one folding plate containing two panoramic views in end-pocket of vol. II. A near fine set, uncommonly clean and bright. A short closed tear to the head of each spine, and a little spotting to the fore- and bottom-edges. This notwithstanding an incredibly fresh set, many pages remain unopened, and with sound hinges.

Shackleton's famous account of the Nimrod expedition, which he led to the Antarctic in 1907-09. The expedition got within some hundred miles of the Pole, whereupon Shackleton gave the quest up famously claiming, "Better a live donkey than a dead lion.", but it established Shackleton as a "bona fide English hero" (Books on Ice). A measure of the regard in which Shackleton was held can be gathered from the quote attributed to Raymond Priestley, who accompanied Shackleton on this and future expeditions, "For scientific leadership, give me Scott; for swift and efficient travel, Amundsen; but when you are in a hopeless situation, when there seems to be no way out, get on your knees and pray for Shackleton."
Following his return from the Antarctic in June 1909, the recipient of this copy, Catherine Eckstein, hosted the first dinner for him and the officers of the expedition, a lavish affair:
"The dinner table was a quite a novel feature. A green and blue gauze were put together, to look like the sea, and between the folds fishes were placed. On the top of this a large sheet of plate glass was laid, edged around with seaweed. In the centre was a model of the Nimrod made entirely of flowers, the ropes done with white heather and a Union jack flying from the topmast... A large Union Jack made entirely of flowers was placed as if waving in the breeze between the first and second staircase" (The Morning Post, 17 June 1909).
Inscribed copies of the book are uncommon, exceptionally so in such nice condition.

PROVENANCE: Catherine Eckstein (presentation inscription); thence by descent to her son, the noted collector Sir Bernard Eckstein; his sale, Sotheby's, 24th January 1949; private collection.

Stock ID: 39493


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