A well-written and fairly balanced hagiography by a friend of both Shackleton and his widow. There are few passages on Shackleton’s early reading including the first Scott expedition aboard Discovery.
p. 35, re books he had on The Houghton Tower, 1890-94: Amongst the books he had taken with him was one for readings for every day, Daily Help for Daily Need, inscribed “Ernest Shackleton, with love and all good wishes from L. D. Sale-Barker.” Mrs. Sale-Barker, well known at that time as a successful writer of books for young people, had long been a close friend of the Shackleton family, and her death before his return from this voyage was a real sorrow to Ernest. Another book, Thayer’s Tact, Push and Principle, bears the inscription: “Ernest Henry Shackleton, with warmest good wishes and earnest prayer for his temporal and eternal welfare from his clergyman and friend Henry Stevens.” Such were the influences which reinforced the effects of the home surroundings. He also had with him several of Scott’s novels and Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, which he lent to the first mate, who wanted to read it particularly, as he had heard it was the best written book in the English language. He also read a great deal of history in his early voyages. Motley’s Rise of the Dutch Republic he never forgot.
p. 46, as a merchant man, in 1894 Shackleton signed on as third mate on the steamer, Monmouthshire: Shackleton probably valued most the seclusion of a cabin to himself after being cooped up for four years with a crowd of noisy and ill-mannered youths. He could read and write now undisturbed during his watch below. He had a good stock of books with him, including poetry, novels, and works of general interest. A neighbor at home had given him Brassey’s Naval Annual, his father’s coachman, presented Burke’s Essays on the Sublime and the Beautiful, inscribed, “To Master Ernest from Johnson.” Another gift was a popular book on “Famous Men of Science,” wherein he had noted that Galileo’s birthday was the same as his own.
p. 48, on a voyage to China and Japan, “At Nagasaki he bought some books, among them two which show him still pursuing his literary education, one a Rhyming Dictionary to id his efforts at verse, the other Lamprière’s Classical Dictionary, from which to patch his neglected knowledge of the past.
p. 61, on the Discovery, 1901-1903: The ship was well-stocked with books, from the scientific quartos of the Challenger Reports to the dainty duodecimos of the Temple Classics, which occupied narrow shelves fixed to the roof-beams of the ward-room. Only there was little time for reading.
p. 71, while he was working on the South Polar Times: So the winter passed, and much to his surprise Shackleton found that there was no time for the extensive scheme of study he laid out for himself. He snatched odd hours for such books as Bates’s Naturalist on the Amazons and Plutarch’s Lives, but the chances were rare….