This book was commissioned by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 2001 as a pictorial anthology of the life of Sir Ernest Shackleton. The introduction was written by Shackleton’s distinguished biographer, Roland Huntford and the brief was to tell the story of Shackleton’s four Antarctic expeditions in 330 pictures and captions.
Photographs by Frank Hurley of the Endurance expedition are of such stunning quality that is was a great challenge to find photographs from the other expeditions that would stand out in one way or another. In the end I used not only photographs but drawings, printed material, reproductions of posters and letters in order to bring life to the stories of Discovery, Nimrod, Endurance and Quest. This worked well in that it gave a stronger historical context to the book rather than making it just another photographic gallery centred around Endurance.
Shackleton was a fascinating character to work on. He had two clearly defined personalities, which are reflected in the photographs. On the high seas and on expedition he was bold, a natural leader exuding confidence and strength. On land he was much less sure of himself. The photographs show a man much less at ease with himself which, for one who sought publicity in order to finance his expeditions, is perhaps surprising.