Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton’s expeditions to Antarctica are the stuff of legend. He made two attempts to reach the South Pole, before his voyage on the ill-fated Endurance in 1914. Endurance became trapped in the ice for ten months before eventually sinking. The crew had already abandoned the ship and were living on the ice before spending the best part of a year finally trekking to Elephant Island, and then across 1,300 km of ocean to South Georgia. Not a single member of the expedition died.
An Australian photographer, Frank Hurley was one of the crew, and his photographs have recently been digitalized by the Royal Geographical Society in London. One of the pictures in the collection shows the laden bookshelves on board the Endurance. The team at the RGS have identified many of the books, so we thought we’d take a look and find out a little bit more about the books the expedition team took with them and whether they are still available.
The last edition of this English language encyclopaedia was published in 2010. It was their 15th edition and had 32 volumes. Whilst the Encyclopaedia is no longer published, it continues in digital form here: http://britannica.co.uk
(Picture: US advert for the 11th edition from the May 1913 issue of National Geographic Magazine)
Out of print, but available for download as an ebook from the Gutenberg Library. If you want the real thing, there is a 1910 edition for sale on this rare books site
A novel about society in Butte, Montana, as it revolved around the mining interests. This would have only just been published when the Endurance set sail. Reprint available on here: Amazon.com.
A series of plays that “challenges his audiences' moral complacency in the face of serious social problems and inequities.” The plays are still available, published by Penguin Classics in a variety of formats
Conrad is better known for Heart of Darkness, but this was Joseph Conrad’s first novel – available as an ebook from the Gutenberg Library.
Set in the late 1800s, the book centers on an unsuccessful Dutch trader Kaspar Almayer and his relationship with his mixed heritage daughter Nina.
Sadly, Dr. Brewer died before he had completed the proof-reading his guide to ‘famous names in fiction, allusions, references, proverbs, plots, stories and poems, so his daughter completed it for him. Not surprisingly this is no longer in print, but there are second hand copies available on Abe Books.
The term ‘Brassbounder’ refers to a cadet in the British Merchant Navy whose family pay a premium so he can have additional privileges on board ship. This is a classic seafaring tale of one such Brassbounder’s experiences sailing the world. The Gutenberg Library has this one too!
Orczy is better known for The Scarlet Pimpernel, but this short murder mystery is still available on Amazon bundled along with 11 other short mystery stories by the same author.
Hornung wrote a whole series of books about his character Arthur J Raffles – the gentleman thief. Hornung was the brother-in-law of Arthur Conan Doyle, and one does wonder whether they should have bought the Raffles and Sherlock Holmes together for an epic showdown. You can browse the collection on the open library.
As the Endeavour set sail, this novel was in the process of being converted for the big screen. The silent movie was directed by Frank Wilson and was released in 1916.
This a compilation of views on both sides of topical political controversies, was first published in 1896. It was popular and went through several editions. I’ve not been able to track down a copy online though. Got a copy? Let us know in the comments section below.
Still in print and translated into many languages, this tome is still popular today, Amazon.com notes it is a ‘Best Seller’ in the (admittedly small) genre Gothic & Romantic Literary Criticism