Top Ten Ernest Shackleton Facts

Sir Ernest Shackleton was one of the 20th Century’s greatest heroes. His tales of adventure and extraordinary courage inspired a generation of explorers and his legacy lives on to this day. There has been countless stories written about Sir Ernest’s life and adventures, and perhaps we can surprise you with a few…

Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Sir Ernest Shackleton. Photo credit:

Here are our top ten Ernest Shackleton facts:

  1. Sir Ernest Shackleton was born in Kildare, Ireland in February 1874. At the age of 10 years old he moved to London. His father was English – originally from Yorkshire. His mother’s family were Irish, from Kildare and Cork.
  2. Shackleton’s first trip to Antarctica was with another legend of exploration – Robert Falcon Scott – on the ‘Discovery’ Expedition of 1901-1904. Shackleton was sent home on medical grounds (heart problems) and didn’t finish the expedition. Scott had some pretty scathing remarks about his performance!
  3. In 1904, Shackleton married Emily Dorman and they had three children together.
  4. Ernest Shackleton worked, for a time, as the secretary of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, as well as a journalist.
  5. Shackleton originally wanted to be a doctor and his father often talked about this later in life. Instead, he left school at 16 and joined the British Merchant Navy where he qualified in 1898 as a master mariner…something that no doubt would help him a few years later!
  6. Shackleton’s Endurance mission left in 1914 – just a few days after the outbreak of WWI. Shackleton actually offered his ship, crew and provisions to the British Admiralty to help in the war effort, but they urged him to pursue his quest.
  7. The story of Shackleton’s miraculous escape is legendary. We would like to remind you that he sailed 1300km in nothing more than a glorified rowboat, battled treacherous seas with little navigation equipment, to then climb a mountain range, a few glaciers and then go back with help to rescue 22 of his men stuck on Elephant Island. Whew! (Read that again!)
  8. If the rescue wasn’t enough, Shackleton returned home to enlist for the army – only to be refused based on health grounds – his heart was the reason yet again!
  9. An avid record keeper, Shackleton was a darling of the speaking circuit and used his well-publicised speeches for more fundraising for expeditions. His book “Endurance” has been sold millions of times worldwide and is a must read for anyone venturing to Antarctica.
  10. Shackleton is buried in Grytviken, South Georgia. He died there in 1921 on route to his third Antarctic expedition, at the age of 47.

Inspired? Follow in the footsteps of Shackleton on a Chimu Adventures charter: “Shackleton’s Antarctica” for 18 days in March 2018 on board the all-suite Sea Spirit. Special guests still to be announced! Or go on one of the many other cruises to Antarctica!

Photo credit header image: The Royal Geographical Society.

Author: Greg Carter