It has been described as one of the great books of Antarctic exploration. First published in 1919, South detailed Sir Ernest Shackleton’s story of his legendary attempt to become the first to cross Antarctica by land from side to side.
Now a rare copy of British-Irish polar explorer Shackleton’s account of his ill-fated last expedition, signed by two members of his team and given as a gift to another member, will go up for auction next week.
While bidding for the book will start at £1,000, it is expected to generate a lot of interest when it is sold by Edinburgh-based auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull on Wednesday as it is considered a piece of incredible history.
Read more: Glasgow’s oldest house to undergo £1million restoration
During the 1914–1917 expedition, Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, was trapped and gradually crushed by sea ice and eventually sank. The 27-man crew managed to reach uninhabited Elephant Island in three lifeboats.
Shackleton then left for the South Georgia Island whaling station with five other people for help. This incredible feat, ultimately accomplished by only three of the six, took 16 days and involved a perilous 800-mile journey by open boat through frigid waters, an ascent of nearly 3,000 feet and a journey of approximately 40 miles over mountainous and icy terrain. .
This unique copy of the expedition’s narrative is inscribed by Shackleton’s second-in-command, Frank Wild, “To Vince, from those who appreciate his valor and wickedness”, and further signed below by the surgeon of the trip, James McIlroy.
The recipient is likely to be John Vincent (1884-1931), of Birmingham, boatswain during the voyage but later demoted due to his aggressive behavior. A boxer and former trawler setting out on fishing boats in the North Sea, Vincent was physically the strongest man on board but was accused by other crew members of bullying and had to be put in his place by Shackleton.
One of the book signings was that of Wild, known as Shackleton’s right-hand man, was left in charge of 21 men on desolate Elephant Island as Shackleton and a crew of five embarked on an epic journey on the high seas to South Georgia aboard the lifeboat. James Caird to seek help. For more than four months, from April to August 1916, during the Antarctic winter, Wild and his crew waited on Elephant Island, surviving on a diet of seals, penguins and seaweed.
Read more: Watch Outlander star Sam Heughan join Glasgow graduates
In 1914 McIlroy, along with Alexander Macklin, were the two doctors assigned under Shackleton on Endurance for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, despite suffering from malaria.
McIlroy was in charge of a team of sled dogs when the expedition was washed up in the Weddell Sea. After the castaways found refuge on Elephant Island, McIlroy was the surgeon performing the amputation of Perce Blackborow’s gangrenous toes, with Macklin serving as anesthetist, carefully administering a tiny amount of recovered chloroform as anesthesia.
In 1921, he joined Shackleton as a surgeon in another polar expedition, “Quest”, the Shackleton-Rowett expedition. Shackleton died aboard ship off South Georgia Island, however, and the mission was completed by Wild.
In March this year, Shackleton’s lost wooden ship, the Endurance, was found largely intact in the Weddell Sea, part of the Southern Ocean, 100 years after Shackleton’s funeral. Images of this incredible discovery made headlines around the world.
Lyon & Turnbull rare books, manuscripts and maps specialist Dominic Somerville-Brown said: “This particular copy of Shackleton’s book is an amazing piece of history. Although his crossing of Antarctica was unsuccessful, his ability to ensure that he and his crew survived made him a national hero. In addition to the physical strength required, he had to deal with difficult relationship dynamics.
“The fact that the book is inscribed with John Vincent makes it particularly interesting. Shackleton’s strained relationship with Vincent is evidenced by the fact that on his return to England he was one of only four members of the expedition to not to be recommended by Shackleton for the Polar Medal. .
‘The sinking of the Endurance and the survival of the crew has achieved almost mythical status. I anticipate that this copy of the expedition w