“Epidemic proportions”


“Word arrived on 11/26 that somebody in No. 5 tent had unearthed a fresh deck of playing cards. Along with McIlroy, [Shackleton] spent hours teaching them how to play bridge. Within forty-eight hours, the popularity of the game reached epidemic proportions.”

— Alfred Lansing, Endurance

“From each tent may be heard, ‘1 club, 2 hearts, 2 no-trump, double 2 no-trump’ etc.”

— Lionel Greenstreet

[image from The World of Playing Cards]

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Naming of the boats

The James Caird

The James Caird

“Crews have been allotted to the three boats, which have been christened the James Caird, the Dudley Docker and the Stancombe Wills, and a list of responsible duties drawn up to be performed by individuals in case of emergency. Since the 21st, a northward advance of 20 miles has been made… Little change has taken place in the ice. The present camp has been named Ocean Camp.”

— Frank Hurley

“George Marston, the artist, got busy with what remained of his paints and lettered the proper name on each boat.”

— Alfred Lansing, Endurance

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Shackleton, with Hurley skinning a penguin.

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“She’s going, boys.”

Break-up of the Endurance: Frank Hurley’s 1915 footage, plus new animation. Directed by Sarah Galloway for @AMNH

“Hurley meanwhile had rigged his kinematograph-camera and was getting pictures of the Endurance in her death-throes. While he was engaged thus, the ice, driving against the standing rigging and the fore-, main- and mizzen-masts, snapped the shrouds. The foretop and topgallant-mast came down with a run and hung in wreckage on the fore-mast, with the fore-yard vertical. The main-mast followed immediately, snapping off about 10 ft. above the main deck. The crow’s-nest fell within 10 ft. of where Hurley stood turning the handle of his camera, but he did not stop the machine, and so secured a unique, though sad, picture.

“At 5pm she went down by the head: the stern the cause of all the trouble was the last to go under water. I cannot write about it.”

— Ernest Shackleton, South

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I shot the Albatross

The albatross is shot by the Mariner by Gustave Dore, 1876 (wood engraving)

“The albatross is shot by the Mariner” by Gustave Dore, 1876 (wood engraving)

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1834


And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o’ertaking wings,
And chased us south along.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,
As who pursued with yell and blow
Still treads the shadow of his foe,
And forward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,
And southward aye we fled.

And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken—
The ice was all between.

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God’s name.

It ate the food it ne’er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!

And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner’s hollo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moon-shine.’

‘God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!—
Why look’st thou so?’—With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.


Full text.

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The Encyclopedia Britannica

Eleventh Edition, 1911

Eleventh Edition, 1911

“For descriptions of every American town that ever has been, is, or ever will be, and for full and complete biographies of every statesman since the time of George Washington and long before, the Encyclopedia would be hard to beat. Owing to our shortage of matches we have been driven to use it for purposes other than the purely literary ones though; and one genius having discovered that the paper, used for its pages had been impregnated with saltpetre, we can now thoroughly recommend it as a very efficient pipe-lighter.”

— Ernest Shackleton, South

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A bloody business

“Killing the seal was usually a bloody business. Wild had brought from the ship a revolver, a 12-gauge shotgun, and .33-caliber rifle, but ammunition was limited. As a result, the men killed the seals by hand whenever possible. This involved approaching the animal cautiously, then stunning it across the nose with a ski or a broken oar and cutting its jugular vein so that it bled to death. Sometimes the blood was collected in a vessel to be fed to the dogs, but most often it was allowed to run out into the snow. Another technique was to brain the seal with a pickaxe. But the two surgeons discouraged this practice, for it often left the brains inedible and they were prized as food because they were believed to be high in vitamin content.”

— Alfred Lansing, Endurance

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