THE HEART OF THE ANTARCTIC: Being the Story of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907-1909. [with] THE ANTARCTIC BOOK. Winter Quarters 1907-1909.

First edition. Deluxe issue, limited to 300 copies, this being no. 241, signed by all 16 members of the shore party, including Shackleton. Three volumes. The first two volumes in publisher's original full vellum with gilt penguin device to the upper board and titles in gilt to the spine. The third volume in publisher's original quarter vellum over grey paper-covered boards. Top edges gilt, the others untrimmed. Brown silk page markers. The first two volumes illustrated with a photogravure frontispiece to each volume; 12 colour plates after paintings by George Marston, all with captioned tissue guards; four double-page photographic plates, 271 photographic illustrations on 195 plates; diagrams, maps, plans and graphs in the text, including nine full-page. Also three folding maps and one folding plate containing two panoramic views in end-pocket of vol. II. The third volume - 'The Antarctic Book' - containing the 16 signatures of the expedition members across two facing pages with the woodcut heading 'The British Antarctic Expedition 1907 - 1909', illustrated with four colour-printed portraits of members of the Southern Party (Ernest Shackleton, Jameson Boyd Adams, Eric Marshall, and Frank Wild) after George Marston mounted on thick grey paper and six etchings after Marston. A near fine set, the bindings square and tight with just the odd mark to the vellum, which is otherwise uncommonly clean and bright. The third volume has a previous owner's (1927) gift inscription in ink to the front pastedown and some tanning to the endpapers, otherwise the contents of all three volumes are wonderfully clean and fresh throughout.

A beautiful example of the deluxe first edition of Shackleton's account of the 'Nimrod' expedition, which he led to the Antarctic in 1907-9, signed by Shackleton and the entire shore party. In his monumental bibliography, 'Antarctica, 1772-1922', Michael Rosove describes this "three-volume special edition [as] one of the most handsome productions in the Antarctic canon. Nothing was spared by the publisher and printer to style the volumes as beautifully as possible. The work is sumptuously bound in vellum, in large quarto format with broad margins around the typeset, and printed on thick, high-quality, deckle-edged paper specially watermarked '1907 BAE 1909'. The full-page photographic plates are outstanding... Marston's watercolors are vibrantly reproduced, each mounted on a sheet of thick, brown paper with a titled tissue guard. The Antarctic Book possesses the coup - a double page signed by all members of the shore party". The Nimrod expedition set a record for the farthest southward reach, making it to the magnetic pole. It also undertook the first ascent of Mount Erebus, discovered the Beardmore Glacier passage (named after Shackleton's patron), and was the first to cross the Trans-Antarctic mountain range, as well as to set foot on the South Polar Plateau. Owing to a lack of rations, the expedition did not ultimately make it to the pole itself, although did come within 100 nautical miles; as Shackleton famously later remarked to his wife: "Better a live donkey than a dead lion". It would be three more years before Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first to actually reach the South Pole, followed shortly by Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova expedition. Following the Nimrod expedition, Shackleton returned to Britain a hero, and was knighted for reaching the furthest south of any person to date. An indication of the esteem in which he was held by both colleagues and the public alike is demonstrated by the assertion of Raymond Priestly, the Nimrod expedition's geologist: "For scientific leadership, give me Scott, for swift and efficient travel, Amundsen. But when you are in a hopeless situation, when you are seeing no way out, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton". In addition to the signatures and suite of portraits and etchings, the third volume ('The Antarctic Book'), only present with this edition, contains Shackleton's poem 'Erebus' and Douglas Mawson's 'Bathybia' (both extracted, along with three of the etchings, from the legendary Aurora Australis, the first book ever written, printed, illustrated and bound in the Antarctic).

Stock code: 24000


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London: William Heinemann.


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Travel / Exploration
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