Sir Ernest Shackleton's name will
for evermore be engraved with letters
of fire in the history of Antarctic
Ernest Shackleton was the quintessential Edwardian hero. A contemporary - and adversity - of Scott, he sailed on the Discovery expedition of 1900, and went on to mount three expeditions of his own. Like Scott, he was a social adventurer: snow and ice held no particular attraction for him, but the pursuit of wealth, fame and power did. Yet Shackleton, an Anglo-Irishman who left school at 16, needed status to raise money for his own expeditions. At various times he was involved in journalism, politics, manufacturing and City fortune-hunting - none of them very effectively. A frustrated poet, he was never to be successful with money, but he did succeed in marrying it.
At his height he was feted as a national hero, knighted by Edward VII, and granted £20,000 by the government for achievements which were, and remain, the very stuff of legend. But the world to which he returned in 1917 after the sensational Endurance expedition did not seem to welcome surviving heroes. Poverty-stricken by the end of the war, he had to pay off his debts through writing and endless lecturing. He finally obtained funds for another expedition, but died of a heart attack, aged only 47, as it reached South Georgia.
From the excellent biography, Shackleton, by Roland Huntford, available at amazon.co.uk
- Ernest Shackleton was the second child and elder son of a family that eventually numbered two brothers and eight sisters.
Up to the age of 10, he grew up in Kilkea, Ireland, thirty miles from Dublin. His father, Henry Shackleton, was a farmer. This was the time of the disasterous periodic failures of the potato crop and, consequently, agricultural depression and hard times for farmers. Thus Henry left the land and at the age of 33, he began to read medicine at Trinity College, Dublin and start a new career.
In 1884, immediately after qualifying Dr Shackleton crossed the water to settle in England for good. His first practice, at South Croydon, was a failure, so after six months he moved to Sydenham. There he held his own, and there he stayed. It was in Suburban London, therefore, that Ernest Shackleton passed the remainder of his boyhood. From 1887, he attended Dulwich College.
His boyhood home in Sydenham, Aberdeen House
(now St Davids & pictured above), still remains with blue plaque.
More details and photos can be found here.
At the bequest of his wife, Emily, he was buried in Grytviken, South Georgia, in the Norwegian cemetery, along with the whalers from that country who made this desolate spot home. They were the outcasts of the sea, amongst whom he felt at home.
More details can be found @ http://indigo.ie/~jshack/Other%20Ernest%20Pages/last.html.
When he died, Shackleton left debts of £40,000, over £700,000 in today's terms. That money, however, came from people who could afford it.
I admire in the highest degree what [Shackleton] and his companions achieved with the equipment they had. Bravery, determination, strength they did not lack. A little more experience ... would have crowned their work with success.
- He was knighted in 1909, aged 35.
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