Frank Hurley



      B I O G .


      Date of birth:


      Birth name:

        James Francis "Frank" Hurley

      Date of death:

        17 January 1962




      Fate is a funny beast. If Hurley is remembered for one thing alone it is for his astonishing photos of Shackleton's Endurance expedition (1914-16). The ship lit up, in the ice, are images that captured the plight of that expedition more than a million words could possibly say. In fact, without Hurley's images, I venture to say that our fascination with Endurance would not have been so strong or acute. Yet Hurley, highly suspicious of Shackleton's (leader) ability to pay his salary for his work, only agreed to join it at six weeks' notice. As it was, his suspicions were proved justified as long after the expedition was over he was chasing Shackleton for 530 which he was owed. But the important thing to note is that Hurley could so easily have declined to go with Shackleton. And without Hurley's photos we would not remember Hurley.

      Such is Fate.

      In his prime in his 20s, Hurley was a swaggering character with a shock of dark, curly hair, and an uneasy cast to his face. He was a compulsive roamer. As a boy, he had run away from home. He came to photography by chance.

      Hurley travelled on a number of expedititions to the Antarctic including Douglas Mawson's 1911 expedition. It was Mawson who advised him not to go on Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (Endurance) that set out in 1914 and was marooned until August 1916. Thankfully (for us and Hurley's reputation), he ignored his advice.

      Not only was his photography invaluable to the expedition. Hurley was also a trained metal worker, ingenious and inventive. He was always making things. Amongst other things, he constructed a stove and arranged to floor the tents with timber from the wreck of the ship once they were marooned on ice (see Endurance page for more details on the expedition.)

      He was arguably the hardest and most intelligent worker of them all.

      In 1917, following his return, Hurley joined the AIF as an honorary captain and captured many stunning battlefield scenes during the Third Battle of Ypres. In keeping with his adventurous spirit, he took considerable risks to photograph his subjects. His period with the AIF ended in March 1918. Hurley also served as a war photographer during World War II.

      He died in 1962 at the age of 77.

      Further Reading

    • South with "Endurance" - The Photogaphs of Frank Hurley
    • "Endurance": Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic
    • "Endurance": Shackleton's Legendary Journey to Antarctica
    • Shackleton



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