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Ernest Shackleton by Harold Begbie (1922)

Shackleton: A Memory by Harold Begbie (1922)

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MILLS  & BOON, London, 1922
(First Edition)

“In the darkening twilight I saw a lone star
hover gem-like above the bay.”
Shackleton’s last entry in his Diary

This is the extremely rare 1922 first edition of Harold Begbie’s memoir of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the celebrated Antarctic explorer. Based upon articles Begbie had writen for the Daily Telegraph, it was the first memoir of Shackleton to be published, appearing soon after Shackleton’s death in January 1922 at South Georgia during the Quest Expedition of 1921-22.

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton CVO OBE FRGS (15 February 1874 – 5 January 1922) was a polar explorer and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. His first experience of the polar regions was as third officer on Captain Robert Falcon Scott's Discovery Expedition 1901–1904, from which he was sent home early on health grounds, after he and his companions Scott and Edward Adrian Wilson set a new southern record by marching to latitude 82°S. During his expedition of 1907–1909 Shackleton and three companions established a new record Farthest South latitude at 88°S, only 97 geographical miles from the South Pole. Members of his team also climbed Mount Erebus, the most active Antarctic volcano. For these achievements, Shackleton was knighted by King Edward VII on his return home. Shackleton next turned his attention to the crossing of Antarctica from sea to sea, via the pole. His 'Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition’ of 1914–17 went disastrously wrong when its ship, Endurance, became trapped in pack ice and was slowly crushed before the shore parties could be landed. The crew survived, firstly by camping on the sea ice until the ship disintegrated, then by launching the lifeboats to reach Elephant Island and ultimately the inhabited island of South Georgia, after an epic ocean voyage of 720 nautical miles which became Shackleton's most famous exploit. In 1921, he returned to the Antarctic with the Shackleton–Rowett Expedition, but died of a heart attack while his ship was moored in South Georgia. At his wife's request he was buried there. Sir Raymond Priestley, one of Shackleton’s trusted companions, provided the perfect epitaph: “For scientific discovery give me Scott; for speed and efficiency of travel give me Amundsen; but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton."

Harold Begbie (1871–1929) was an English author and journalist who published nearly 50 books and poems and contributed to numerous newspapers and periodicals. His work included political satire, comedy, fiction, science fiction, plays and poetry. Begbie was born in 1871, the fifth son of Mars Hamilton Begbie, rector of Fornham, St. Martin, Suffolk; he died in London on 8 October 1929.


In good condition. The boards are in good condition, with some general wear, fading at the spine, and a few marks. The spine titling is faded. The hinges and binding are secure. The text is in very good condition, with just some minor marks to the endpapers.

Published: 1922
Blue boards with blue titling
First Edition
89 pages (plus 16pp publisher’s catalogue)
Dimensions: 130mm x 190mm