"Mayer puts forward arguments with such authority and obviously intimate knowledge of the material that I am thoroughly convinced. . . it far far outstrips the majority of polar dross I've read over the years."—Felicity Aston, MBE, first woman to ski across Antarctica alone and author of Alone in Antarctica


A Life in Poetry

Jim Mayer

“If he has the face of a fighter, he has the look of a poet: one must be both fighter and poet to accomplish what he has done.”
Daily Telegraph, June 1909

“This is an extremely interesting work on a very important part of Shackleton’s character.”
—Jonathan Shackleton, polar historian & cousin of Sir Ernest Shackleton

Sir Ernest Shackleton, known as a tough polar explorer and inspirational leader, also held the words of poets close to his heart. ‘Poetry was his other world and he explored it as eagerly as he did the great Antarctic spaces,’ said his friend, Mrs. Hope Guthrie. This new biography reveals another side of Shackleton’s story through the poetry he loved. It also includes–for the first time in published form– all the poems and poetic diary extracts written by the great explorer, each of which sheds light on significant milestones in his life and adventures. Shackleton, who did more than any other explorer to open Antarctica to the popular imagination, used poetry as a tool, to encourage and motivate men who were frequently operating close to their physical and psychological limits. The works of Tennyson, Browning and Robert W. Service were, in his own phrase, ‘vital mental medicine’ throughout his life. Poems influenced his speeches, his letters to his wife and the way he led his men. These verses, selected from his correspondence and other sources, are linked throughout the book to Shackleton’s turbulent and restless life, offering fresh insights into his struggles in the Antarctic, his strained but loving marriage and the magnetic attraction of the polar regions. Shackleton: A life in Poetry is a love story, a new interpretation of a well-known Boy’s Own adventure and a poetic exploration.

Jim Mayer is an expedition leader and a guide in the Arctic and Antarctic where he specialises in polar history. He has led his own life of exploration, having skied across the Greenland ice cap and survived an attack from hungry polar bears.

£9.99 paperback

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October 2014
176 pages
ISBN: 9781909930100