Ernest Henry Shackleton was born February 15th, 1874, in County Kildare, Ireland. The second of 10 children and oldest son, he was raised in London where he attended Dulwich College, an independent public school for boys. Shackleton joined the British Merchant Navy at the age of 16, achieving the rank of First Mate by the age of 18, and becoming a certified Master Mariner by the age of 24. Having built his career as a professional seaman, Shackleton joined Captain Scott’s Discovery Expedition in 1901; the best equipped Antarctic expedition of the age. On November 2nd, 1902, Ernest Shackleton, Captain Scott and Edward Wilson set off on a journey that, at the time, was the southern-most trek achieved by any explorer. They had travelled 300 miles further south than anyone before them and were only 480 miles from the South Pole. Shackleton fell seriously ill with scurvy, coughing blood and suffering fainting spells and unable to pull the sledge. Scott and Wilson, themselves suffering, struggled onward. After 93 days and covering a distance of 960 miles, they returned to HMS Discovery in February 1903. The following month Captain Scott invalided Shackleton home but in time, he was to lead three of his own expeditions to the Antarctic.
In 1907, Shackleton led the Nimrod Expedition (named after their ship S.Y. Nimrod). This expedition would notably go down in history as one of the most pioneering endeavours of the age, it encapsulated every quality of fine leadership and teamwork. On January 9th, 1909, Shackleton reached a new Farthest South latitude of 88° 23′ S, just 97.5 nautical miles (180.6 km; 112.2 miles) from the pole. This was by far the longest southern polar journey to that date and a new world record. A separate group led by Prof. Edgeworth David reached the South Magnetic Pole, and the expedition also achieved the first ascent of Mount Erebus, Antarctica’s second highest volcano. The expedition pioneered the use of horses and a new form of transport known as a ‘motor car’, the first time both forms of transport had been used on the continent. Upon Shackleton’s return to England, King Edward VII stepped aboard the Nimrod, and bestowed a knighthood upon the young explorer.
Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition (1914 – 1916) would later become known as one of the great epics of human survival and one of the finest displays of leadership, seamanship and camaraderie. In 1922, Shackleton led the Quest Expedition with the objective of circumnavigating the Antarctic continent. Sadly, when his ship came to anchor in Grytviken Harbour, South Georgia, he died suddenly of a heart attack. On his wife’s instructions – he was buried there, surrounded by the seas and mountains which forged his greatness. Affectionally know as 'The Boss', today Shackleton is remembered as one the greatest explorers from the ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration’.