Shackleton’s Antarctica

‘The Heart of the Antarctic’ & ‘South’

Ernest Shackleton

Introduced by Alexandra Shackleton

Commemorating the centenary of Ernest Shackleton’s death, The Folio Society brings together The Heart of the Antarctic and South – thrilling accounts of his greatest polar expeditions in his own words.

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‘The stark polar lands grip the hearts of the men who have lived on them in a manner that can hardly be understood by the people who have never got outside the pale of civilisation.’
  1. The Heart of the Antarctic


Published together for the first time, Ernest Shackleton’s two polar memoirs are gripping accounts of adventure at the very limit of human endurance. The Heart of the Antarctic (1909) and South (1919) tell the story of the Nimrod and Endurance expeditions – both of which fell short of their goal, but saw Shackleton defy overwhelming odds to save his men from catastrophe and bring them home. This commemorative three-volume set includes the complete texts from the first editions, alongside fine reproductions of the original photographs, drawings, panoramas and maps. The explorer’s granddaughter, Alexandra Shackleton, has contributed a new introduction exclusively for the Folio Society. Each volume is beautifully bound in dark blue cloth, blocked in silver with a screen-printed image from the original cover. Housed in an elegant cloth-covered slipcase, Shackleton’s Antarctica is the perfect tribute to the greatest British leader from the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

The Heart of the Antarctic

2 volumes 

Bound in cloth blocked in silver and with images screen-printed in silver ink 

Set in Century and printed on Abbey Pure paper 

1,176 pages in total including hundreds of integrated images and photographs plus 14 colour plates 

Silver page tops 

9¾˝ x 6¾˝

Panoramas and 3 maps presented in a separate pocket


Bound in cloth blocked in silver and with an image screen-printed in silver ink 

Set in Century and printed on Abbey Pure paper 

416 pages plus 57 plates of full-page photographs and 12 integrated full-page drawings and photographs

Silver page tops 

9¾˝ x 6¾˝

1 map presented in a pocket in the binding case 


All three volumes presented together in a cloth-covered slipcase lined with paper printed in silver with an image of the Endurance


Ernest Shackleton
'The Leader' – photograph by Frank Hurley
© Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

‘I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all.’
  1. Ernest Shackleton

The British Antarctic Expedition of 1907–9 is the subject of The Heart of the Antarctic. Shackleton’s riveting narrative recounts how he came to within 97 miles of the Pole, before making ‘one of the great decisions of polar history’ to turn back, saving the lives of his men. The expedition was no failure: as well as gaining the ‘Farthest South’ record, it made the first ascent of Mount Erebus, ensuring Shackleton returned a hero. This is the most complete edition available, with George Marston’s accomplished watercolours and more than 200 of the men’s photographs integrated throughout the text. The pictures form a compelling visual diary, capturing the chores and camaraderie of day-to-day life in the hut as well as the magnificently bleak polar landscapes and wildlife. They are augmented by fold-out maps and panoramas presented in a separate pocket.

‘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.’
  1. Raymond Priestley, geologist on the Nimrod and Terra Nova Expeditions

After Amundsen claimed the Pole in 1911, Shackleton focused on a new goal. South is Shackleton's thrilling account of his fateful attempt to cross the continent by land on the Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–17: a plan thwarted when the Endurance sank and the men had to endure months on the open ice. In one of the most extraordinary voyages in seafaring history, he and five companions sailed the 22½-foot James Caird across 800 miles of rough, sunless ocean to raise help in South Georgia. Every man in the Endurance party was saved. Frank Hurley’s photographs – salvaged after the shipwreck – include many iconic images from the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration, including world-famous shots of the ship trapped in pack ice. The edition includes more than 60 as full pages or spreads, digitised by the RGS from the originals for supreme sharpness and clarity. A large fold-out map in the binding back pocket completes the volume.

An exceptional leader, Ernest Shackleton is amongst the greatest Antarctic explorers. He served as a junior officer in Captain Scott's 1901–04 Discovery Expedition and went on to mount three expeditions of his own. The first he led was the 1907–09 British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition. He came within 97 miles of the Pole, the farthest south reached by any expedition, but had to turn back to save his men from starvation. He returned a national hero and was knighted by King Edward VII. Shackleton’s exemplary leadership skills again proved crucial when his next expedition, the Endurance Expedition of 1914–17 – an attempt to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic – became a desperate fight for survival. After the Endurance was crushed by the ice, Shackleton undertook a perilous 800-mile journey in an open boat to South Georgia to secure the rescue of his men. A gifted writer, his polar memoirs The Heart of the Antarctic and South stand testament both to his heroic leadership and his talent for storytelling. It was on his third expedition as leader, an attempt to circumnavigate Antarctica, that Shackleton died of a heart attack on 5 January 1922 at the age of 47.

The Hon. Alexandra Shackleton is the granddaughter of Sir Ernest Shackleton and is much involved in the great explorer’s legacy. She is President of the James Caird Society (effectively the Ernest Shackleton Society), a Vice-Patron of the Antarctic Heritage Trust, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Member of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and of several committees concerned with the Antarctic and the Falkland Islands. Alexandra has visited the Antarctic many times and has spoken on her grandfather in more than sixteen countries.


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