Sir Ernest Shakleton

Tara Doyle

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Early Life

Ernest Shackleton was born on 15 February 1874 in Kilkea near Athy, Country Kildare, Ireland. Ernest's father was Henry Shackleton, and his mother was Henrietta Letitia Sophia Gavan. His father's family was Anglo-Irish, originally from Yorkshire, England. His mother's family was Irish. Ernest was the second of their ten children and the first of two sons. In 1880, when Ernest was six, Henry Shackleton gave up his life as a landowner to study medicine at Trinity College, Dublin, moving his family into the city. Four years later, the family moved again, from Ireland to Sydenham in suburban London.


He was schooled by a governess until the age of eleven, and then he began at Fir Lodge Preparatory School in West Hill, Dulwich, in southeast London. At the age of thirteen, he entered Dulwich College. In his final term at the school he achieved fifth place in his class of thirty-one.From early childhood, Shackleton was a big reader; a pursuit which sparked a passion for adventure.


Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was an Anglo-Irish explorer who participated in four British expeditions to the Antarctic, he led three of them.

Preparing for The Endurance

In 1920 shackleton started to tier. He started to consider the possibility of a last expedition. He now thought seriously of going to the Beaut sea area of the Arctic, a largely unexplored region. With funds supplied by former schoolfriend John Quiller Rowett. The plan changed. The destination became the Antarctic and the project was an "oceanographic and sub-antarctic expedition". The goal was to circumnavigate the Antarctic continent on a ship called the Endurance and investigation of some "lost" sub-Antarctic islands.

The Endurance

Endurance departed from South Georgia on 5 December. As the ship moved southward. Deep in the Weddell Sea, conditions gradually grew worse and worse until, on 19 January 1915, Endurance became frozen in the ice. On 24 February, realising that she would be trapped until the following spring, Shackleton ordered the abandonment of ship's routine and her conversion to a winter station. She drifted slowly northward with the ice through the following months. When spring arrived in September, the breaking of the ice put extreme pressures on the ship's hull. Until this point, Shackleton had hoped that the ship, when released from the ice, could work her way back towards Vahsel Bay. On 24 October, however, water began pouring in. Shackleton gave the order to abandon ship saying "She's going down!" and men, provisions and equipment were transferred to camps on the ice.On 21 November 1915, the wreck finally slipped beneath the surface. For almost two months, Shackleton and his party camped on a large, flat ice floe, hoping that it would drift towards paulet island, approximately 402 km away. After failed attempts to march across the ice to this island, Shackleton decided to set up another more permanent camp on another floe, and trust to the drift of the ice to take them towards a safe landing. By 17 March, their ice camp was within 60 miles (97 km) of Paulet Island but, separated by impassable ice, they were unable to reach it. On 9 April, their ice floe broke into two, and Shackleton ordered the crew into the lifeboats, to head for the nearest land. After five harrowing days at sea, the exhausted men landed their three lifeboats at Elephant island, 557 km from where the Endurance sank. This was the first time they had stood on solid ground for 497 days.


At 2:50 a.m. on 5 January 1922, Shackleton suffered a fatal heart attack. He died. He was buried in South Georgia.