Shackleton’s Boat Journey

Frank Worsley

Introduced by Ranulph Fiennes

A story of tremendous courage and endurance, related first-hand by Frank Worsley, this stunning Folio Society edition of Shackleton's Boat Journey includes photographs by Frank Hurley, maps and introduction by explorer Ranulph Fiennes. 

‘A breathtaking story of courage, skill and determination under the most appalling conditions’
  1. Sir Edmund Hillary

In 1914, Ernest Shackleton set out to complete a transcontinental journey from sea to sea, crossing the South Pole. However, when the Endurance became trapped in ice just one month after leaving South Georgia, his mission was doomed. The ship coasted for miles and finally sank, the crew and what supplies they could retrieve drifting in lifeboats before arriving at the remote and barren Elephant Island. With no hope of rescue, Shackleton made the difficult decision to set off with five other men in one of the lifeboats and make the perilous 800-mile sea crossing to South Georgia to raise the alarm. Written in concise, fast-moving prose by the captain of the Endurance, Shackleton’s Boat Journey reads as a gripping adventure and is also the most intimate and engrossing account of this extraordinary survival mission. This striking edition includes 13 black-and-white photographs by renowned expedition photographer Frank Hurley, as well as two maps and a binding design by award-winning illustrator Simon Pemberton. A fascinating introduction by British explorer Ranulph Fiennes completes this exceptional edition.

Bound in printed, blocked and spot-varnished paper

Set in Bodoni with Sackers Gothic display

168 pages

13 full-page black-and-white photographs

3 part-title illustrations by Simon Pemberton and 2 maps

Plain slipcase

9˝ x 6¼˝

‘My hope is that the cover image captures the drama, intensity and energy – the power of the sea. I’d like the reader to look at the cover and instantly feel a little scared.’
  1. Simon Pemberton

Simon Pemberton’s striking binding illustration, spot-varnished for a watery effect, evokes the raging seas that threatened to engulf the tiny boat. Inside, Pemberton’s three part-title illustrations add a dramatic flourish to the text, while the display typeface is inspired by correspondence of the Endurance expedition. The edition is illustrated with a selection of Frank Hurley’s famous photographs. Forced to discard most of his glass-plate negatives due to their weight, Hurley had to select the most important, which include photographs of the men on Elephant Island and the ice-bound Endurance. These incredible images are joined by Worsley’s map of the land route across South Georgia, which he drew from memory. The legendary explorer Ranulph Fiennes introduces this edition, adding historical context and drawing on his own experience of polar exploration to convey just what it took for these men to survive.

‘They had drifted 2,000 miles over six months of precarious existence, but their period of real suffering and extreme danger was only now to begin’
  1. Ranulph Fiennes, from his introduction

As well as detailing the ingenuity that aided the men’s survival – though humble about the crucial role he played – Frank Worsley recalls the tenacity and humour with which they faced extreme privation and the threat of death. For all his restless ambition, Shackleton was neither foolhardy nor ruthless, and here we learn of his heroism, loyalty and pragmatism when the survival of his men became his sole aim. Following the gruelling journey to South Georgia in the small open lifeboat, during which the six men battled treacherous seas and illness, there were still mountains and glaciers to cross before they reached the remote whaling station that offered their only hope of rescue. However, thanks to Shackleton’s exemplary leadership and Worsley’s incredible navigational skills, all 28 Endurance crew members would ultimately survive their ordeal.

Frank Worsley, born in New Zealand in 1872, enlisted in the New Zealand Shipping Company in 1888, before serving in the Royal Navy. In 1914 he joined the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition under Ernest Shackleton as captain of the Endurance. Following the wreck of this ship the expedition went by lifeboat to Elephant Island, from where Worsley sailed with Shackleton and four others across the South Atlantic to Georgia, to gain help for the rescue of his fellow sailors. He served during the First World War and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his role in the sinking of the German submarine U-33. From 1921 to 1922 he served on Shackleton’s last Antarctic voyage, the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition, as captain of the Quest. He died in 1943.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes has spent much of his life exploring and working in conditions of extreme cold, earning himself the title of ‘the world’s greatest living explorer’. Among the many adventures he has led over the past 40 years, he was the first to reach both Poles, to cross the Antarctic and Arctic Ocean, to circumnavigate the world along its polar axis and to cross the Antarctic continent unsupported. Author of numerous books, including biographies of Scott and Shackleton, he successfully summitted Everest in 2009.


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