The remarkable revival of interest in the Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton, nearly eighty years after his death, shows no sign of slackening off. Indeed, it is gathering momentum.
No fewer than a quarter of a million visitors thronged to two Shackleton exhibitions in the United States last year, in New York and Washington. A spate of new books, films, television and radio programmes, and media articles, and planned Antarctic expeditions, have focused on a man whose exploits as an Antarctic explorer thrilled the nation nearly a century ago.
Now it is the turn of people in the United Kingdom and Europe to find out more about this giant of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration, in one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of his life ever staged -- at his old school, Dulwich College, in South London, opening on October 31st, for nearly five months, until February 25th next year. The exhibition, entitled " Shackleton: the Antarctic and Endurance", is being mounted with the co-operation of the James Caird Society ( named after his famous boat) which exists to promote knowledge of Shackleton's extraordinary life.
The exhibition will bring together many items of fascinating interest from a variety of sources in an endeavour to explain the remarkable qualities of a man whose exploits might well be fiction rather than fact.
Outstanding among those exhibits will be the boat in which Shackleton made his most momentous journey -- the 23 foot long James Caird, which featured in one of the greatest stories of survival, endurance and rescue of all time. The ordeal began when his ship, Endurance, was crushed by ice and eventually sank on his Antarctic expedition between 1914 and 1917. The eighteen-month rescue bid involved an eight hundred mile crossing of the stormiest seas in the world in the James Caird, from Elephant Island to South Georgia. Shackleton and his two fittest men then crossed the unmapped mountains of South Georgia to make contact with the outside world at the Norwegian whaling station at Stromness.
In repeated attempts, in four different ships, Shackleton went back to rescue the men he had left behind, All 28 men on the expedition survived, thanks largely to Shackleton's outstanding leadership. It was the most momentous of the three Antarctic expeditions he led. On his final expedition in 1922, he suffered a fatal heart attack and is buried atthe whalers' cemetery at Grytvik