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Ernest Shackleton handwritten signed letter

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SKU PT2077
  • A rare handwritten letter by Antarctic Explorer Ernest Shackleton
  • Written during the early days of the historic Discovery Expedition of 1901 - 1904

Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874 – 1922) was an Irish Antarctic explorer who led three expeditions to the Antarctic.


He first visited the Antarctic as part of Captain Scott's famous Discovery Expedition of 1901-1904.


His most famous expedition was the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–1917, during which his ship Endurance was trapped and then crushed by pack ice.


Shackleton led his crew to rescue, after surviving terrible conditions on the ice and a dangerous sea crossing to South Georgia Island. 


A rare handwritten letter by Shackleton, dated December 23 1901 and addressed to Discovery Expedition secretary Cyril Longhurst.


(Longhurst also served as Shackleton's best man at his wedding.)


It was written just two days after the Discovery set sail for the Antarctic Circle from Lyttelton in New Zealand.


The letter reads in full:


“My dear Cyril,

"I have really been so busy that only now have I time to write a line to you old chap... We are just off now and will soon be shut off from all we know, excepting our little crowd on the ship.

“We get on very well together. Royds has tamed down wonderfully and is rather nice. He is better at sea. In port he fancies the weight of the whole expedition rests on his shoulders and assumes a worried look in consequence.

“I never got the copy of Drygalski which Sir C.M said you were sending. Will you make enquiries about it old chap and get it back if it has been sent.

"I am going to write you an official letter about my money. Mind you never let anyone know where I have it sent and never forward any letters of mine to my people. Sent them to Lyttleton to await arrival of out by the relief ship.

"Now, old man. The very best of wishes for the New Year, from yours affectionately, Ernest H. Shackleton".


Written on a single sheet of Discovery Expedition headed paper measuring 8.2" by 5.2", folded in half with text on all four sides.


The letter is in very good condition, with clear text, a crisp fresh signature from Shackleton and expected minor mail folds.


A superb item from the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration.


Provenance: ex Stanley Gibbons.

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