The Heart of the Antarctic; Being the Story of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907–1909


The British Antarctic Expedition of 1907–9, led by Ernest H. Shackleton, left Port Lyttelton, New Zealand, in the ship Nimrod on January 1, 1908. On February 3, the Nimrod deposited Shackleton and a party of 14 men at Cape Royds, on Ross Island. The men divided into three groups. One would try to reach the South Pole, a second went north to reach the South Magnetic Pole, while a third was to explore the mountains west of McMurdo Sound. Shackleton, three companions, and four ponies set out for the South Pole on October 29. Enduring great hardship, on January 9, 1909, they attained a latitude of 88°23’ S., farther south than any previous expedition. There they were forced to turn back by fierce blizzards and low supplies. They made their way back to the Nimrod and returned safely to New Zealand. In addition to coming to within 97.5 nautical miles (180.6 kilometers) of the pole, the expedition registered two other significant achievements. On March 5–11, 1908 the party of Douglas Mawson, Edgeworth David, and Alistair Mackay made the first ascent of the 3,794-meter Mount Erebus, the most active volcano in Antarctica; and on January 16, 1909, the same three men reached the South Magnetic Pole. The Heart of the Antarctic is Shackleton’s two-volume account of the expedition, written on the passage by ocean liner from New Zealand back to Britain and published in October 1909. On December 14, 1911, the Norwegian Roald Amundsen and four companions finally reached the pole.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

W. Heinemann, London


Title in Original Language

The Heart of the Artarctic; Being the Story of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907–1909


Type of Item

Physical Description

2 volumes : maps and illustrations ; 26 centimeters


  1. Ann Savours, “Shackleton, Sir Ernest Henry (1874–1922),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
  2. H. Shackleton, “The British Antarctic Expedition,” Geographical Journal, 34, number 2 (August 1909).

Last updated: October 19, 2015