Heart of the Antarctic, Being the Story of the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909,

Pub. 1909 by Heinmann. Shackleton's monumental account of his quest for the South Pole, where he turned back 97 miles short of his goal rather than press on and risk not having the food or time to make it back to base camp..

South: The Story Of Shackleton's Last Expedition 1914-1917.

This is Shackleton's own account of the Endurance expedition. Setting out from Britain on the day war broke out in 1914 it sets the goal of the first transantarctic crossing. He never achieved this, Endurance stuck fast in the ice he wintered on board for 9 months. The shifting ice finally crushing the ship and the story begins. What a story it is, Shackleton took the crew across 600 miles of frozen and rapidly thawing ice to a remote barren outcrop called Elephant Island. He then with a crew of four crossed 850 miles of Southern Ocean, climbed a uncharted mountain range and successfully sought help from the whaling station at South Georgia Island. Shackleton rescued every one of his crew, its an astonishing story of courage and leadership .Within this book is the often forgotten tale of equal courage by the support party in the Aurora. They managed to leave supplies in the most appalling conditions for the expected transantarctic party - not knowing the fate that had befallen them.This is rightly an important book in this subject matter. Photographs are by Frank Hurley and are simply superb.

Print runs and new editions are numerous. The book was first published by Heinemann in 1919. These editions in two volumes fetch up to £500. Editions were later published by them in 1921, 1923, 1927 1932 and 1970. Later editions dropped the rather long title and left it as 'South'. Various other publishers issued special 'cheap edition' or 'popular' . Longman and Green(1938)/ Lyon Press (NY)(1998)/ Pimlico(1999)/ Robinson(1998)/ Penguin Putnam(1999).

Always try to obtain the Heinemann editions, later books were issued for the America market and are often edited to suit.


Shackleton had been a member of Scott’s expedition 1901—1904, and had edited the expedition’s paper The South Polar Times. This had been produced on a typewriter and with hand drawn images by Wilson. He saw the affect it had in helping maintain morale and this time Shackleton, provided the men of the Nimrod with the means to produce a book. The platten letterpress used was donated by Causton & Sons and include instruction in its use which was greatly received by Ernest Joyce and Frank Wild.

Taking its title from the ‘southern lights’ phenomenon, Aurora Australis is the first book created entirely in the Antarctic. Not just conceived, written and produced on a typewriter, but printed on a press, with the illustrations lithographed and etched, and bound on site as well.

The binder, Bernard Day, was the expedition’s motor mechanic. He used the Venesta board (a precursor of plywood) from the packing cases to make book covers. These boards with the stencilled letters indicating the cases’ contents are frequently used to identify copies of this very rare and distinctive book.

About 100 copies were produced; the exact figure is not known, as the copies were not numbered. Of these only about 25—30 copies were bound. The contents also differ somewhat from copy to copy.

‘Printed at the sign of the penguins’, the compilation contains crew’s accounts of the expedition, fiction, poetry and humorous essays. George Marston illustrated the book, and contributors included Douglas Mawson, who later led Australasian exploration in the Antarctic. The publication of the book is a testament to the dedication of the team, as they struggled in cramped conditions to produce it.

This text has been adapted from the Sate Library of Austrialia web site.

Needless to say originals are very rare. A recent edition of a copy given by Shackleton to his wife fetched £35,000. Most of us will have to do with the facsimile editions of which there are plenty.