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The Dangerous Race for the South Pole - Elizabeth Leane

The Dangerous Race for the South Pole - Elizabeth Leane

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View full lesson: https://ed.ted.com/lessons/the-dangerous-and-daring-race-for-the-south-pole-elizabeth-leane

Lesson by Elizabeth Leane, directed by WOW-HOW Studio.


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South Pole Nature and Culture Elizabeth Leane

The Geographic South Pole is a place of paradox. It is a point around which the earth quite literally pivots yet it has a habit of falling off the edge of our maps. An invisible spot on a high, featureless ice plateau, the Pole has no obvious material value, but is nonetheless a much sought-after location. The endpoint of exploration’s most famous ‘race’, between teams led by Robert F. Scott and Roald Amundsen, the Pole has more recently become a favoured destination of ‘extreme’ tourists. Like the whole of Antarctica, 󈦺˚ South’ does not belong to any nation, but six national claims meet there, and for nearly sixty years the u.s. has occupied the site with a series of scientific stations. The Pole is a deeply political place.

In South Pole Elizabeth Leane explores the important challenges that this strange place poses to humanity. What is its lure? How and why should people live there? How can artists respond to its apparent blankness? What can it teach us about our planet and ourselves? Along the way, she considers the absurdities and banalities of human engagement with the Pole.

Ranging chronologically from the ancient Greeks to the present, and featuring spectacular images of the South Pole, this book offers a fascinating history of the symbolic heart of the Antarctic.

To read and download some sample pages from the book please click here.

&lsquoAs the quintessence of Earthly remoteness, Antarctica has drawn hordes of scientists, iconic explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen, and novelists who have peopled it with vast humanoid lobsters or radioactive elephant seals. Historian Elizabeth Leane tours the research, literature, exploration, and geopolitical maneuverings that swirl around the pole. Hers is a detailed, compelling portrait of a place at once central and marginal, fantastically inhospitable and beautiful, and a mecca for physicists, government claimants, and extreme tourists.&rsquo &mdash Nature

&lsquoSouth Pole is an enticing cultural and natural history of this real and yet elusive place.&rsquo &mdash Sydney Morning Herald

&lsquothis is a work that has to be considered a real contribution to the better understanding of a range of important Antarctic matters. With Leanes clear and straightforward writing, this book will surely encourage not only polar experts, but also a wider public to take a lively interest in the many stories of the South Pole.&rsquo &mdash Imago Mundi

&lsquoMusicians, artists, writers and sculptors are among those to have visited Pole in the years since Amundsen led the way, and it has left its mark on all of them. This is a highly readable study of the worlds most remote destination.&rsquo &mdash Geographical Magazine

&lsquoSouth Pole is well-written, beautifully produced on fine quality paper and well illustrated, with over half the photographs, paintings and diagrams in colour . . . a particularly well-produced book, well written and interesting to read.&rsquo &mdash Geological Journal

&lsquoI found this book a very informative and surprisingly entertaining read that covers a wide variety of Antarctic topics . . . she has made a very good job of relating and collating the experiences and impressions of the many and varied visitors to this symbolic heart of Antarctica and its place in our quest to understand our planet.&rsquo &mdash Polar Record

&lsquo[the book] weaves together mythology and tales of ancient speculation, the sledging journeys of the early 20th century, scientific investigations, environmental issues, political negotiations and new challenges of tourism. Leane draws on stories from researchers to describe what it is like to live in a place where every direction is north. A fascinating journey from ancient Greece to the modern day on an unexpectedly rich theme.&rsquo &mdash Cosmos

&lsquoElizabeth Leane has managed to capture the essence, the allure, the mystique and the magnificence of this isolated, featureless place on the earth, presenting it in such a way that it combines history, with geography in a manner that entertains as well as educates. If you are an armchair explorer or traveller you will definitely enjoy this journey!&rsquo &mdash Blue Wolf Reviews

&lsquoShortlisted for the William Mills prize for non-fiction polar books&rsquo &mdash 2018

&lsquoAs the quintessence of Earthly remoteness, Antarctica has drawn hordes of scientists, iconic explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen, and novelists who have peopled it with vast humanoid lobsters or radioactive elephant seals. Historian Elizabeth Leane tours the research, literature, exploration, and geopolitical maneuverings that swirl around the pole. Hers is a detailed, compelling portrait of a place at once central and marginal, fantastically inhospitable and beautiful, and a mecca for physicists, government claimants, and extreme tourists.&rsquo &mdash Nature

&lsquoSouth Pole is an enticing cultural and natural history of this real and yet elusive place.&rsquo &mdash Sydney Morning Herald

&lsquothis is a work that has to be considered a real contribution to the better understanding of a range of important Antarctic matters. With Leanes clear and straightforward writing, this book will surely encourage not only polar experts, but also a wider public to take a lively interest in the many stories of the South Pole.&rsquo &mdash Imago Mundi

&lsquoMusicians, artists, writers and sculptors are among those to have visited Pole in the years since Amundsen led the way, and it has left its mark on all of them. This is a highly readable study of the worlds most remote destination.&rsquo &mdash Geographical Magazine

&lsquoSouth Pole is well-written, beautifully produced on fine quality paper and well illustrated, with over half the photographs, paintings and diagrams in colour . . . a particularly well-produced book, well written and interesting to read.&rsquo &mdash Geological Journal

&lsquoI found this book a very informative and surprisingly entertaining read that covers a wide variety of Antarctic topics . . . she has made a very good job of relating and collating the experiences and impressions of the many and varied visitors to this symbolic heart of Antarctica and its place in our quest to understand our planet.&rsquo &mdash Polar Record

&lsquo[the book] weaves together mythology and tales of ancient speculation, the sledging journeys of the early 20th century, scientific investigations, environmental issues, political negotiations and new challenges of tourism. Leane draws on stories from researchers to describe what it is like to live in a place where every direction is north. A fascinating journey from ancient Greece to the modern day on an unexpectedly rich theme.&rsquo &mdash Cosmos

&lsquoElizabeth Leane has managed to capture the essence, the allure, the mystique and the magnificence of this isolated, featureless place on the earth, presenting it in such a way that it combines history, with geography in a manner that entertains as well as educates. If you are an armchair explorer or traveller you will definitely enjoy this journey!&rsquo &mdash Blue Wolf Reviews

&lsquoShortlisted for the William Mills prize for non-fiction polar books&rsquo &mdash 2018

Elizabeth Leane is Associate Professor of English at the University of Tasmania. She is the author of Reading Popular Physics (2007) and Antarctica in Fiction (2012), and the co-editor of Considering Animals (2011).

Fogle is the son of English actress Julia Foster and Canadian veterinarian Bruce Fogle, based for over 40 years in London. He was educated at two independent schools: The Hall School, Hampstead in London, and Bryanston School in Blandford Forum, Dorset.

Fogle went to Ecuador for a gap year, working in an orphanage teaching English. He then took a second year worked on a turtle conservation project on the Mosquito Coast of Honduras and Nicaragua.

Fogle studied for a degree in Latin American studies at the University of Portsmouth, before studying for a year at the University of Costa Rica. [4]

During this time Fogle also became a Midshipman in the Royal Naval Reserve, serving as an URNU officer on HMS Blazer and delivering aid to war-torn Bosnia and Croatia. [5]

Magazines Edit

Fogle's initial jobs included picture editor at Tatler magazine. [4]

Television Edit

Fogle first came to public notice when he participated in the BBC reality show Castaway 2000, which followed a group of thirty-six people marooned on the Scottish island of Taransay for a year, starting 1 January 2000. This was a social experiment aimed at creating a fully self-sufficient community within a year.

Fogle is a television presenter who has worked for the BBC, ITV, Channel 5, Sky, Discovery and the National Geographic channels in the UK. He has hosted Crufts, One Man and His Dog, Countryfile, Country Tracks, Extreme Dreams with Ben Fogle, Animal Park, Wild on the West Coast, Wild in Africa, "Ben Fogle – African Migration" and Ben Fogle's Escape in Time. Fogle made a film about the facial deforming disease noma for a BBC Two documentary Make Me A New Face which followed the work of the charity Facing Africa and Great Ormond Street Hospital [ when? ] .

Fogle has produced films about naval history and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) for the History Channel and followed Princes William and Harry on their first joint Royal Tour in Botswana and made an exclusive documentary called Prince William's Africa. He marked the centenary of Captain Scott's expedition to the South Pole with The Secrets of Scott's Hut. Fogle is popular on the motivational and corporate speaking circuit. His new series, Swimming with Crocodiles will air on BBC Two [ when? ] , Storm City in 3D on Sky One and National Geographic [ when? ] . Fogle has become a special correspondent for NBC News in the United States [ when? ] .

Fogle appeared on the programme Countryfile with John Craven from 2001 to 2008, during which he reported on a number of UK rural pastimes [ according to whom? ] . He rejoined the programme in 2014.

Since 2013, Fogle has presented two series of Harbour Lives, a documentary series on ITV. In 2014, Fogle joined the presenting team on ITV series Countrywise with Liz Bonnin and Paul Heiney, which covers aspects of the British coast and country.

In 2013, Fogle presented a new show for Channel 5 called Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild, that saw him follow the stories of people living in the wild and isolated from society. [6] Fogle also took over as the host of Animal Clinic on Channel 5, replacing Rolf Harris.

Sport Edit

Atlantic Rowing Race Edit

Fogle was the first to cross the line in the pairs division of the 2005–2006 Atlantic Rowing Race in "Spirit of EDF Energy", partnered by Olympic rower James Cracknell. While competing in the 3,000-mile race, the pair had their boat fully capsized by huge waves. They made landfall in Antigua at 07.13 GMT on 19 January 2006, a crossing time of 49 days, 19 hours, 8 minutes. After penalties, they were placed second in the pairs and fourth overall. In 2007, the BBC series that followed the pair, Through Hell and High Water, won a Royal Television Society award.

Marathon des Sables Edit

He has also completed the six-day Marathon des Sables for the World Wide Fund for Nature across 160 miles (260 km) of the Sahara Desert and the Safaricom Marathon in Kenya for the Tusk Trust, with Longleat Safari Park keeper Ryan Hockley. Fogle has completed the Bupa Great North Run in 1 hour 33 minutes, the London Marathon and the Royal Parks Half Marathon. He beat EastEnders actor Sid Owen in a three-round charity boxing match for BBC Sport Relief under the training of Frank Bruno and he recently re-ran the Safaricom marathon in Kenya with the injured Battleback Soldiers.

Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race Edit

Fogle teamed up with Cracknell once again, together with Ed Coats, a Bristol-based doctor, [7] as Team QinetiQ to take part in the inaugural "Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race". Six teams set out to race across the Antarctic Plateau to commemorate the historic race of 1911 between Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott. Having led the race for much of the time, [8] the team took 18 days, 5 hours and 10 minutes to complete the 770-kilometre (480 mi) race, coming second overall, 20 hours [9] [10] behind the Norwegian team, who commended them on making it "a fantastic race", [11] and over two days ahead of the next placed team. [12] Fogle suffered hypothermia and frostbite to his nose and the team experienced temperatures as low as −40 °C (−40 °F). The race was filmed by the BBC for the series On Thin Ice and was aired in Summer 2009. Five episodes of On Thin Ice were broadcast on BBC Two Sunday evenings [13] receiving a peak record of 3.7 million viewers. Macmillan published an account of their journey, Race to The Pole, which became a top-10 best-seller in the UK.

In October 2009, Fogle and Cracknell cycled a rickshaw 423 miles from Edinburgh to London non-stop. They took 60 hours to reach the capital, raising money for SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association). The event was filmed as part of The Pride of Britain Awards. [ citation needed ] Fogle and Cracknell planned to take part in the Tour Divide race in 2010, a 3,000-mile mountain-bike race across the Rocky Mountains, from Banff in Canada to the border of Mexico. The world record is held by American Matthew Lee and stands at 17 days. The race was put on hold after Cracknell received life-threatening injuries after being knocked from his bicycle in America while training. [ citation needed ] In 2013, Fogle and Cracknell teamed up again for their third and final expedition across the Empty-quarter of Oman for a new BBC Two series. [ citation needed ]

Mount Everest Edit

On 16 May 2018, Fogle summited Mount Everest, completing the climb over a six-week period whilst accompanied by two local sherpa guides, as well as Kenton Cool. [14] His trek also included former Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton, who abandoned her attempt early due to severe altitude sickness. A film Our Mount Everest Challenge (The Challenge: Everest) documented by CNN, aired in June 2018, to highlight environmental issues around mountains in his new role as UN patron of the wilderness. The whole project was made possible by Fogle's good friend, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, in memory of her father alongside raising awareness and money for The Red Cross. [15] [16]

Writing Edit

Fogle has written ten books The Teatime Islands in search of the remaining islands in the British Empire in which he travels to Saint Helena, Ascension Island, the Falkland Islands, the British Indian Ocean Territories and Tristan da Cunha. He also tried to visit Pitcairn Island by private yacht, but when the inhabitants learned that he was a journalist they refused to let him land. Fogle claims that they suspected that he was a spy, and after six hours of interrogation he was refused permission to visit and deported. He was also accused of attempting to smuggle a breadfruit on to the island. [17] The book was short-listed for the WHSmith's people's award for Best Travel Book.

He has also written Offshore (2006), published by Penguin Books, in which he travelled around Britain in search of an island of his own. [18] He visited the Kingdom of Sealand and attempted to invade Rockall in the North Atlantic. [ citation needed ] In 2006 he published The Crossing, published by Atlantic books and co-written with Cracknell followed their Transatlantic rowing bid. [ citation needed ] In 2009, The Race to the Pole was published by Macmillan and spent ten weeks in the best-seller list. [ citation needed ] His seventh book Labrador was released in 2015. In it, he explores the origin, characteristics and exploits of the breed.

In 2016, Land Rover: The Story of the Car that Conquered the World was published. [19] English: A Story of Marmite, Queuing and Weather, which was published in 2017, examines the English national character. [20] He published his tenth book, Up, in October 2018. Co-written with his wife, Marina, Up documents his planning, training and eventual summit of Mount Everest. [21]

In 2019 Fogle launched a children's book series, co-written by best-selling children's author Steve Cole (author) and illustrated by Nikolas Ilic. Inspired by Fogle's real-life encounters with animals, the series follows the character of Mr Dog and his many sidekicks and friends. [22] Between March 2019 and January 2020, four Mr Dog books were published, with two more billed for late 2020. [23]

Fogle writes a weekly Country Diary for the Sunday Telegraph and is a regular columnist for The Daily Telegraph and travel writer for The Independent and has contributed to the Evening Standard, The New York Times, the Sunday Times and Glamour magazine. He has interviewed Gordon Brown and Prince William for the Mail on Sunday ' s LIVE magazine. He is guest director of Cheltenham Literary Festival and a regular at the Hay-on-Wye festival.

Fogle is the UN Patron of the Wilderness, a role that sees him highlight the pressure and impact on the earth's wildest corners. His aim is to focus more attention on the conservation cause and inspire greater global action to ensure our actions do not damage the environment. [24]

He is the President of the Campaign for National Parks. [25] Fogle is also: an ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Tusk a supporter of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. [26] He is also a patron for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, the Prince's Trust, the Royal Parks Foundation, Child Bereavement UK and ShelterBox.

Alongside the historian Philippa Gregory, Fogle is a patron of the UK Chagos Supporters Association, fighting for the islanders' rights to return to the British Indian Ocean Territory. He has described "the story of the Chagos islanders' treatment at the hands of the UK government" as "one for which I am ashamed to be British [. ] a story of deceit [. which has] shaken my very principles on conservation and democracy". [27]

In August 2014, Fogle was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian expressing their hope that Scotland would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom in September's referendum on that issue. [28]

On 11 May 2020 Fogle announced that his Twitter account would henceforth be donated to a different charity on a rolling, weekly basis. [29] The first charity selected was WECare, a UK and Sri Lankan registered veterinary charity. The repurposing of Fogle's Twitter account followed an incident of widespread trolling of Fogle following his suggestion of a nationwide sing-along to mark the 94th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday 21 April 2020. [30]

Year Title Role Channel
2000–2001 Castaway 2000 Participant BBC One
2001–2009, 2014–2015, 2017–2018 Countryfile Co-presenter
2001–2009, 2016–present Animal Park Co-presenter BBC One/BBC Two
2002–2007 One Man and His Dog Presenter BBC Two
2003 Big Screen Britain Presenter
2003 Death by Pets Presenter
2004 The Sand Marathon Presenter BBC Two
2005–2006 Animal Park: Wild in Africa Co-presenter
2006 Through Hell and High Water Co-presenter BBC One
2006, 2007–2008 Crufts Co-presenter BBC Two
Cash in the Attic Co-presenter BBC One
2007 Animal Park: Wild on the West Coast Co-presenter BBC Two
2007–2009 Extreme Dreams with Ben Fogle Presenter
2009 On Thin Ice Co-presenter
2009–2010 Country Tracks Co-presenter BBC One
2010 Ben Fogle's Escape in Time Presenter BBC Two
2010 Make Me A New Face: Hope For Africa's Hidden Children Presenter
2010 Prince William's Africa Presenter Sky1
2011 The Secrets of Scott's Hut Presenter BBC Two
2011 The World's Most Dangerous Roads [31] Co-presenter
2012 Swimming with Crocodiles Presenter
2012 Lonely Planet's Year of Adventures Presenter Travel Channel
2013— Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild Presenter Channel 5
2013–2016 Countrywise Co-presenter ITV
2013 Ben Fogle's Animal Clinic Presenter Channel 5
2013–2014 Harbour Lives Presenter ITV
2014 Trawlermen's Lives Presenter
2015 Ben Fogle: New Lives In The Wild UK Presenter Channel 5
2015 Ben Fogle: The Great African Migration Presenter Channel 5
2016 Coastal Walks with My Dog Co-presenter Channel 4
2016 Taskmaster Cameo Dave
2017, 2018 Walks with My Dog Co-presenter More4
2018 Britain's Favourite Dogs: Top 100 Co-presenter ITV
2018 Our Everest Challenge Presenter ITV
2020-21 For The Love Of Britain [32] Co-presenter ITV
2021 Inside Chernobyl with Ben Fogle [33] Presenter Channel 5

In 2006, Fogle married Marina Charlotte Elisabeth, [34] daughter of Dr Hon. Jonathan Hunt (son of John, Baron Hunt of Fawley) and Monika (daughter of Dr Herbert Kuhlmann, of Schloss Urstein, Salzburg, Austria). [35] [36] Their first child, a boy named Ludovic Herbert Richard Fogle, was born in 2009. [37] Their second child, a girl named Iona, was born in 2011. In 2014, they had a stillborn son, Willem Marina also nearly died after suffering an acute placental abruption at 33 weeks. [38] [39]

While filming a series of Extreme Dreams in Peru in 2008, Fogle contracted leishmaniasis, which left him bedridden for three weeks on his return home. He was treated at London's Hospital for Tropical Diseases. [40] Fogle went on to make a documentary, Make Me a New Face, about children suffering from flesh-eating bacteria called noma in Ethiopia. The documentary was broadcast on BBC Two.

Fogle was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters by the University of Portsmouth in 2007. [41]

His waxwork was recently unveiled at Madame Tussauds. He was awarded the Freedom of the City of London in 2013. Fogle has had an acting cameo on the television programme Hotel Babylon.

On 20 February 2013, BBC Newsbeat published an article stating that he had claimed that his drink had been spiked at a pub in Gloucestershire. He described the effects as making him try to jump out of a window, and he subsequently spent a night in hospital. [42]


Fiennes was born in Windsor, Berkshire on 7 March 1944, nearly four months after the death of his father, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes. [1] Whilst commanding the Royal Scots Greys in Italy Fiennes' father trod on a German anti-personnel S-mine and died of his wounds eleven days later in Naples on 24 November 1943. [2] He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Order. [3] Fiennes' mother was Audrey Joan (died 2004), younger daughter of Sir Percy Newson, Bt. [4] Fiennes inherited his father's baronetcy, becoming the 3rd Baronet of Banbury, at his birth.

After the war his mother moved the family to South Africa, where he remained until he was 12. While in South Africa he attended Western Province Preparatory School in Newlands, Cape Town. Fiennes then returned to be educated at Sandroyd School, Wiltshire and then at Eton College.

Officer Edit

After graduating from the Mons Officer Cadet School on 27 July 1963 Fiennes served in his father's regiment, the Royal Scots Greys, and was seconded to the Special Air Service where he specialised in demolitions. [5]

Service life was enlivened by various scrapes and escapades, including an occasion when Fiennes and another officer procured a very lively, squirming piglet, covered it with tank grease and slipped it into the crowded ballroom of the army's Staff College, Camberley. On another occasion, offended by the construction of an ugly concrete dam built by 20th Century Fox [6] for the production of the film Doctor Dolittle in the Wiltshire village of Castle Combe, reputedly the prettiest village in England, Fiennes planned to demolish the dam. He used explosives which he later claimed to have accumulated from leftovers on training exercises. [6] Using skills from a recently completed training course on evading search dogs by night, he escaped capture, but he and a guilty colleague were both subsequently traced. After a court case, Fiennes had to pay a large fine and he and his co-conspirator were discharged from the SAS. Fiennes was initially posted to another cavalry regiment but was subsequently permitted to return to the Royal Scots Greys.

Becoming disillusioned by his British Army service, in particular his career prospects, he spent the last two years of his service seconded to the army of the Sultan of Oman. At the time, Oman was experiencing a growing communist insurgency supported from neighbouring South Yemen. Fiennes had a crisis of conscience soon after arriving in Oman, as he became aware of the Sultan's poor government. However he decided that the oppression threatened by a communist takeover, combined with moves towards progressive change within the Sultanate system, justified his part in the conflict. After familiarisation, he commanded the Reconnaissance Platoon of the Muscat Regiment, seeing extensive active service in the Dhofar Rebellion. He led several raids deep into rebel-held territory on the Djebel Dhofar and was decorated for bravery by the Sultanate. After eight years' service Fiennes relinquished his commission on 27 July 1971. [7]

Expedition leader Edit

Since the 1960s Fiennes has been an expedition leader. He led expeditions up the White Nile on a hovercraft in 1969 and on Norway's Jostedalsbreen Glacier in 1970. One notable trek was the Transglobe Expedition he undertook between 1979 and 1982 when he and two fellow members of 21 SAS, Oliver Shepard and Charles R. Burton, journeyed around the world on its polar axis, using surface transport only. Nobody else has ever done so by any route before or since. [8] [9] [10]

As part of the Transglobe Expedition, Fiennes and Burton completed the Northwest Passage. They left Tuktoyaktuk on 26 July 1981, in an 18 ft open Boston Whaler and reached Tanquary Fiord on 31 August 1981. [11] Their journey was the first open boat transit from West to East and covered around 3,000 miles (2,600 nautical miles or 4,800 km) taking a route through Dolphin and Union Strait following the south coast of Victoria Island and King William Island, north to Resolute Bay via the Franklin Strait and Peel Sound, around the south and east coasts of Devon Island, through Hell Gate and across Norwegian Bay to Eureka, Greely Bay and the head of Tanquary Fiord. [11] Once they reached Tanquary Fiord, they had to trek a further 150 miles via Lake Hazen to Alert before setting up their winter base camp. [ citation needed ]

In 1992 Fiennes led an expedition that discovered what may be an outpost of the lost city of Iram in Oman. The following year he joined nutrition specialist Dr Mike Stroud to become the first to cross the Antarctic continent unsupported they took 93 days. A further attempt in 1996 to walk to the South Pole solo, in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign, was unsuccessful due to a kidney stone attack and he had to be rescued from the operation by his crew.

In 2000 he attempted to walk solo and unsupported to the North Pole. The expedition failed when his sleds fell through weak ice and Fiennes was forced to pull them out by hand. He sustained severe frostbite to the tips of all the fingers on his left hand, forcing him to abandon the attempt. On returning home, his surgeon insisted the necrotic fingertips be retained for several months before amputation, to allow regrowth of the remaining healthy tissue. Impatient at the pain the dying fingertips caused, Fiennes cut them off himself with an electric fretsaw, [12] just above where the blood and the soreness was. [6] [13]

Despite suffering from a heart attack and undergoing a double heart bypass operation just four months before, Fiennes joined Stroud again in 2003 to complete seven marathons in seven days on seven continents in the Land Rover 7x7x7 Challenge for the British Heart Foundation. "In retrospect I wouldn't have done it. I wouldn't do it again. It was Mike Stroud's idea". [6] Their series of marathons was as follows:

  • 26 October – Race 1: Patagonia - South America
  • 27 October – Race 2: Falkland Islands - "Antarctica"
  • 28 October – Race 3: Sydney - Australia
  • 29 October – Race 4: Singapore - Asia
  • 30 October – Race 5: London - Europe
  • 31 October – Race 6: Cairo - Africa
  • 1 November – Race 7: New York City - North America

Originally Fiennes had planned to run the first marathon on King George Island, Antarctica. The second marathon would then have taken place in Santiago, Chile. However, bad weather and aeroplane engine trouble caused him to change his plans, running the South American segment in southern Patagonia first and then hopping to the Falklands as a substitute for the Antarctic leg.

Speaking after the event, Fiennes said the Singapore Marathon had been by far the most difficult because of high humidity and pollution. He also said his cardiac surgeon had approved the marathons, providing his heart-rate did not exceed 130 beats per minute. Fiennes later said that he forgot to pack his heart-rate monitor, and therefore did not know how fast his heart was beating.

In June 2005, Fiennes had to abandon an attempt to be the oldest Briton to climb Mount Everest when, in another climb for charity, he was forced to turn back as a result of heart problems, after reaching the final stopping point of the ascent. In March 2007, despite a lifelong fear of heights, Fiennes climbed the Eiger by its North Face, with sponsorship totalling £1.8 million to be paid to the Marie Curie Cancer Care Delivering Choice Programme. Kenton Cool first met Fiennes in 2004, and subsequently guided him in the Alps and Himalayas. [14]

In 2008 Fiennes made his second attempt to climb Mount Everest, getting to within 400 metres (1,300 ft) of the summit before bad timing and bad weather stopped the expedition. On 20 May 2009 Fiennes reached the summit of Mount Everest, becoming the oldest British person to achieve this. Fiennes also became the first person ever to have climbed Everest and crossed both polar ice-caps. [15] Of the other handful of adventurers who had visited both poles, only four had successfully crossed both polar icecaps: Norwegian Børge Ousland, Belgian Alain Hubert and Fiennes. In successfully reaching the summit of Everest in 2009 Fiennes became the first person ever to achieve all three goals. Ousland wrote to congratulate him. [16] Fiennes continues to compete in UK-based endurance events and has seen recent success in the veteran categories of some Mountain Marathon races. His training nowadays consists of regular two-hour runs around Exmoor. [ citation needed ]

In September 2012 it was announced that Fiennes was to lead the first attempt to cross Antarctica during the southern winter, in aid of the charity Seeing is Believing, an initiative to prevent avoidable blindness. The six-man team was dropped off by ship at Crown Bay in Queen Maud Land in January 2013, and waited until the Southern Hemisphere's autumnal equinox on 21 March 2013 before embarking across the ice shelf. The team would ascend 10,000 feet (3,000 m) onto the inland plateau, and head to the South Pole. The intention was for Fiennes and his skiing partner, Dr Mike Stroud, [17] to lead on foot and be followed by two bulldozers dragging industrial sledges. [18]

Fiennes had to pull out of The Coldest Journey expedition on 25 February 2013 because of frostbite and was evacuated from Antarctica. [19] [20]

Author Edit

Fiennes' career as an author has developed alongside his career as an explorer: he is the author of 24 fiction and non-fiction books, [21] including The Feather Men. In 2003, he published a biography of Captain Robert Falcon Scott which attempted to provide a robust defence of Scott's achievements and reputation, which had been strongly questioned by biographers such as Roland Huntford. Although others have made comparisons between Fiennes and Scott, Fiennes says he identifies more with Lawrence Oates, another member of Scott's doomed Antarctic team.

Political views Edit

Fiennes stood for the Countryside Party in the 2004 European elections in the South West England region – fourth on their list of six. The party received 30,824 votes – insufficient for any of their candidates to be elected. Contrary to some reports, he has never been an official patron of the UK Independence Party. [22] He is also a member of the libertarian pressure group The Freedom Association. [23] In August 2014, Fiennes was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue. [24]

Media appearances Edit

As a guest on the British motoring television programme Top Gear, as a Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, his test track lap time, in a Suzuki Liana was 1:51, putting him 26th out of 65. He also appeared in the Polar Special episode, casually berating the three hosts for their flippant attitude toward the dangers of the Arctic.

According to an interview on Top Gear, Fiennes was considered for the role of James Bond during the casting process, making it to the final six contenders, but was rejected by Cubby Broccoli for having "hands too big and a face like a farmer", and Roger Moore was eventually chosen. [25] Fiennes related this tale again during one of his appearances on Countdown, in which he referred also to a brief film career that included an appearance alongside Liz Frazer. [26]

Between 1 and 5 October 2012, and again from 13 to 19 November 2013, Fiennes featured on the Channel 4 game show Countdown as the celebrity guest in 'Dictionary Corner' and provided interludes based on his life stories and explorations.

Most recently Fiennes was an expert guest commentator on the PBS documentary Chasing Shackleton which aired in January 2014. Fiennes makes a number of corporate and after dinner speeches. [27]

In 2019, Fiennes appeared in a three part National Geographic documentary Egypt with the World's Greatest Explorer (also titled Fiennes Return to Egypt) with his cousin and actor Joseph Fiennes that re-traced his first expedition in Egypt back in the 1960s. [28]

Fiennes married his childhood sweetheart Virginia ("Ginny") Pepper on 9 September 1970. They ran a country farm estate in Exmoor, Somerset, where they raised cattle and sheep. Ginny built up a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle while Fiennes was away on his expeditions. The extent of her support for him was so great that she became the first woman to receive the Polar Medal. The two remained married until her death from stomach cancer in February 2004. [ citation needed ]

Fiennes embarked on a lecture tour, where in Cheshire he met Louise Millington, whom he married at St Boniface's Church, Bunbury, one year and three weeks after Ginny's death. A daughter, Elizabeth, was born in April 2006. He also has a stepson named Alexander. In 2007 Millington was interviewed by The Daily Telegraph to help raise money for the Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital in Cheshire. [29]

On 6 March 2010, Fiennes was involved in a three-car collision in Stockport which resulted in minor injuries to himself and serious injuries to the driver of another car. He had been in Stockport to participate in the annual High Peak Marathon in Derbyshire as part of a veterans' team known as Poles Apart that, despite the freezing conditions, managed to win the veterans' trophy in just over 12 hours. [30]

In October 2013, shortly after boarding a flight to Scotland from Bristol Airport, Fiennes suffered a heart attack and later underwent emergency bypass surgery. [31]

Fiennes is a member of the Worshipful Company of Vintners, the Highland Society of London and holds honorary membership of the Travellers Club. [32]

In 1970, while serving with the Omani Army, Fiennes received the Sultan's Bravery Medal. He has also been awarded a number of honorary doctorates, the first in 1986 by Loughborough University, followed in 1995 by University of Central England, in 2000 by University of Portsmouth, 2002 by Glasgow Caledonian University, 2005 by University of Sheffield, 2007 by University of Abertay Dundee and September 2011 by University of Plymouth. [33] Fiennes later received the Royal Geographical Society's Founder's Medal.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1982 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews. [34]

Fiennes was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1993 for "human endeavour and for charitable services": [35] his expeditions have raised £14 million for good causes.

In 1986 Fiennes was awarded the Polar Medal for "outstanding service to British Polar exploration and research." [36] In 1994 he was awarded a second clasp to the Polar Medal, [37] having visited both poles. He remains the only person to have received a double clasp for both the Arctic and Antarctica.

In the 2007 Top Gear: Polar Special the presenters travelled to the Magnetic North Pole in a Toyota Hilux. Fiennes was called in to speak with the presenters after their constant joking and horseplay during their cold weather training. As a former guest on the show who was familiar with their penchant for tomfoolery, Fiennes bluntly informed them of the grave dangers of polar expeditions, showing pictures of his own frostbite injuries and presenting what remained of his left hand. Sir Ranulph was given recognition by having his name placed before every surname in the closing credits: "Sir Ranulph Clarkson, Sir Ranulph Hammond, Sir Ranulph May". . [38]

In May 2007 Fiennes received ITV's Greatest Britons Award for Sport beating fellow nominees Lewis Hamilton and Joe Calzaghe. In October 2007 Fiennes ranked 94th (tied with five others) in a list of the "Top 100 living geniuses" published by The Daily Telegraph. [39]

In late 2008/early 2009 Fiennes took part in a new BBC programme called Top Dogs: Adventures in War, Sea and Ice, in which he teamed with fellow Britons John Simpson, the BBC News world affairs editor, and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the round-the-world yachtsman. The team undertook three trips, with each team member experiencing the other's adventure field. The first episode, aired on 27 March 2009, saw Fiennes, Simpson and Knox-Johnston go on a news-gathering trip to Afghanistan. The team reported from the Khyber Pass and the Tora Bora mountain complex. In the other two episodes they undertook a voyage around Cape Horn and an expedition hauling sledges across the deep-frozen Frobisher Bay in the far north of Canada.

In 2010 Fiennes was named as the UK's top celebrity fundraiser by Justgiving, after raising more than £2.5 million for Marie Curie Cancer Care over the previous two years – more than any other celebrity fundraiser featured on JustGiving.com during the same period.

In September 2011 Fiennes was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Science from Plymouth University [33] and in July 2012 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Glamorgan. [40]

In December 2012 Fiennes was named one of the Men of the Year for 2012 by Top Gear magazine. [41]

In October 2014 it was announced that Fiennes would receive an honorary Doctorate of Science, from the University of Chester, in recognition of "outstanding and inspirational contribution to the field of exploration". [42]

National Gallery: Antarctica

First sighted in 1820, for much of human history Antarctica has been an abstract idea.

Antarctica is not a nation, nor, for most of recorded history, has it been a geographical certainty. The concept of Terra Australis, or ‘South Land’, originates in antiquity, though a torrid zone – too hot for human habitation – was thought to separate it from the northern hemisphere. After the first recorded sighting of Antarctica in 1820, humans were able to confront the coldest, driest and windiest continent on earth in a period of exploration that became known as the ‘Heroic Age’. Spanning the first two decades of the 20th century, its best known event is the ‘Race to the Pole’, won in 1911 and reported with the nationalistic sentiments of its time. As well as feats of endurance, the discovery of Antarctica has also yielded significant scientific discoveries.

Birds' Paradise

The ice sheet which covers 98 per cent of Antarctica’s landmass began to form around 34 million years ago. Before this, Antarctica had a warmer climate in which flora flourished. In 2014, fossil discoveries suggested that, 37 to 40 million years ago, ‘colossal’ penguins, perhaps two metres tall, were among its inhabitants, dwarfing the emperor penguins which now inhabit the Antarctic coast. No pictures of such an animal exist: this painting is based on sketches made on James Cook’s 1773 voyage.

Human Scale

Antarctica has no indigenous human population. ‘Great God! this is an awful place’, wrote the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott after reaching the South Pole in 1912. Apsley Cherry-Garrard, who recorded Scott’s expedition in The Worst Journey in the World (1922), looked with pity at the most abundant of the continent’s indigenous extremophile species: ‘Take it all in all, I do not believe anybody on Earth has it worse than an Emperor penguin.’

Abstract Ideas

The following four illustrations depict Antarctica as it has been for much of human history: an abstract idea. As Elizabeth Leane writes in Antarctica in Fiction, artistic representations of the continent have been hampered by lack of access while, after the continent’s discovery in 1820, ‘the only literary and artistic mode equipped to handle its abstract, minimal, conceptual landscape – modernism – had its attention focused elsewhere’. Beyond language, Antarctica has inspired soundscapes too, as with Windy & Carl’s 1997 eponymous ambient record.


The word Antarktikos, roughly ‘opposite to the north’, is often dubiously attributed to Aristotle. Variations on ‘Antarctica’ have been applied to southern lands including, between 1555 and 1567, France Antarctique, a short-lived French colony in what is now Rio di Janeiro.

On Balance

The ancient Greeks invented the concept of southern hemispheric balancing lands known as the Antipodes, even if they did not believe in them. This rendering of a fifth-century map by the Roman philosopher Macrobius shows the Earth separated into five climate zones with frigida – frozen air – at the poles.

Blank Page

Fictional travel to Antarctica long predates its reality. Joseph Hall’s 1605 satirical novel Mundus Alter et Idem has been identified as the first example of a rich, speculative genre that, for obvious reasons, reflects its authors’ preoccupations far more readily than Antarctic realities. Pre-20th-century authors, lured by the open possibilities of an Antarctic setting, have been free to ‘choose their own adventure’.

First Sight

James Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle in 1773, but remained around 150 miles from the landmass. In 1820 a Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen was among several claiming to be the first to see the ice shelf. This photo was taken on the Challenger expedition. Like Cook, it sailed close but did not sight the continent itself unlike Cook, Challenger carried an official photographer.

Bloody Waters

Curiosity was not the only thing driving explorers south after Cook’s voyage reported the presence of fur seals, intensive sealing of the Antarctic region began in the early 19th century. The first whaling station was built on South Georgia in 1904. Whale and seal numbers were decimated.

Soft Power

Visiting in 2016, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church opined that ‘Antarctica is the only place free from weapons [or] military activity.’ Agreed in 1959, the Antarctic Treaty was the first arms control agreement of the Cold War, yet the continent is not untouched by nationalist concerns. Seven countries have rival territorial claims and many others – including Russia – maintain a presence.


John Davis, an American sealer, claimed to be the first person to set foot on Antarctica on 7 February 1821. Only 74 years later did the first undisputed human presence arrive on the continent with the Norwegian ship Antarctic, on 24 January 1895. Since then, human interaction with the great white expanse has been driven by scientific research, an agreement ratified by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959: ‘Scientific observations and results from Antarctica shall be exchanged and made freely available.’ In 1985, British scientists discovered a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica, linked to the emission of CFCs, covering almost the entire continent. Research in 2015 suggests the depleted ozone layer is healing.

Sweet Victory

The race to the South Pole between parties led by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott is among the best-known stories of the ‘Heroic Age’ of Antarctic exploration. Less well known is that a third, Japanese, party, led by Shirase Nobu, also participated in the race. Amundsen was first to the pole on 14 December 1911, with Scott arriving on 17 January 1912.

Cold as the Grave

Here, a more sombre vision of the so-called ‘Heroic Age’. Arriving at the South Pole five weeks after Amundsen and discovering his defeat, Scott wrote in his journal that ‘the worst has happened’. He was mistaken: he and his team perished on their return journey. Pictured here is the last camp – and tomb – of the final three members of Scott’s party. In 2001 it was estimated that, due to glacial movements, the tent and the bodies are likely to be under 75 feet of ice and 30 miles from their original location.

Breaking Ice

A commonly expressed sentiment by those who have visited Antarctica is the difficulty of describing the experience of being there. This may become a more common complaint: around 40 companies now run cruises to the continent with 38,478 people visiting in the 2013/4 season (November–March). Commercial tourism to Antarctica began in the late 1950s the first boat to specifically carry fare-paying passengers, MS Lindblad Explorer, was built in 1969.

6. Building Soap Box Cars and Racing Them

Soap Box Derbys started in the 1930s as a competition for kids that didn’t require a lot of money. In 1933, a journalist named Myron Scott noticed some kids in Dayton, Ohio, were racing in soap box cars they𠆝 made themselves. He took some pictures of them and started helping them organize bigger races. By the end of the summer that year, these races were drawing up to 40,000 spectators.

The next year, Scott got Chevrolet to sponsor the first All-American Soap Box Derby for boys (girls couldn’t compete until 1971). After holding local races in the Midwest, the 34 winners of those races came to Dayton to compete for the title. The next year, the title race moved to Akron, where it’s been ever since.


Enlightenment thinkers

During the Age of Enlightenment (an era from the 1650s to the 1780s), concepts of monogenism and polygenism became popular, though they would only be systematized epistemologically during the 19th century. Monogenism contends that all races have a single origin, while polygenism is the idea that each race has a separate origin. Until the 18th century, the words "race" and "species" were interchangeable. [13]

François Bernier

François Bernier (1620–1688) was a French physician and traveller. In 1684 he published a brief essay dividing humanity into what he called "races", distinguishing individuals, and particularly women, by skin color and a few other physical traits. The article was published anonymously in the Journal des Savants, the earliest academic journal published in Europe, and titled "New Division of the Earth by the Different Species or 'Races' of Man that Inhabit It." [14]

In the essay he distinguished four different races: 1) The first race included populations from Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, India, south-east Asia, and the Americas, 2) the second race consisted of the sub-Saharan Africans, 3) the third race consisted of the east- and northeast Asians, and 4) the fourth race were Sámi people. The emphasis on different kinds of female beauty can be explained because the essay was the product of French Salon culture. Bernier emphasized that his novel classification was based on his personal experience as a traveler in different parts of the world. Bernier offered a distinction between essential genetic differences and accidental ones that depended on environmental factors. He also suggested that the latter criterion might be relevant to distinguish sub-types. [15] His biological classification of racial types never sought to go beyond physical traits, and he also accepted the role of climate and diet in explaining degrees of human diversity. Bernier had been the first to extend the concept of "species of man" to classify racially the entirety of humanity, but he did not establish a cultural hierarchy between the so-called 'races' that he had conceived. On the other hand he clearly placed white Europeans as the norm from which other 'races' deviated. [16] [15]

The qualities which he attributed to each race were not strictly Eurocentric, because he thought that peoples of temperate Europe, the Americas and India, culturally very different, belonged to roughly the same racial group, and he explained the differences between the civilizations of India (his main area of expertise) and Europe through climate and institutional history. By contrast he emphasized the biological difference between Europeans and Africans, and made very negative comments towards the Sámi (Lapps) of the coldest climates of Northern Europe [16] and about Africans living at the Cape of Good Hope. He wrote for example "The 'Lappons' compose the 4th race. They are a small and short race with thick legs, wide shoulders, a short neck, and a face that I don't know how to describe, except that it's long, truly awful and seems reminiscent of a bears face. I've only ever seen them twice in Danzig, but according to the portraits I've seen and from what I've heard from a number of people they're ugly animals". [17] The significance of Bernier for the emergence of what Joan-Pau Rubiés call the "modern racial discourse" has been debated, with Siep Stuurman calling it the beginning of modern racial thought, [16] while Joan-Pau Rubiés think it is less significant if Bernier's entire view of humanity is taken into account. [15]

Robert Boyle vs. Henri de Boulainvilliers

An early scientist who studied race was Robert Boyle (1627–1691), an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor. Boyle believed in what today is called 'monogenism', that is, that all races, no matter how diverse, came from the same source, Adam and Eve. He studied reported stories of parents' giving birth to different coloured albinos, so he concluded that Adam and Eve were originally white and that whites could give birth to different coloured races. Theories of Robert Hooke and Isaac Newton about color and light via optical dispersion in physics were also extended by Robert Boyle into discourses of polygenesis, [13] speculating that maybe these differences were due to "seminal impressions". However, Boyle's writings mention that at his time, for "European Eyes", beauty was not measured so much in colour, but in "stature, comely symmetry of the parts of the body, and good features in the face". [18] Various members of the scientific community rejected his views and described them as "disturbing" or "amusing". [19]

On the other hand, historian Henri de Boulainvilliers (1658–1722) divided the French as two races: (i) the aristocratic "French race" descended from the invader Germanic Franks, and (ii) the indigenous Gallo-Roman race (the political Third Estate populace). The Frankish aristocracy dominated the Gauls by innate right of conquest.

In his time, Henri de Boulainvilliers, a believer in the "right of conquest", did not understand "race" as biologically immutable, but as a contemporary cultural construct. [ citation needed ] His racialist account of French history was not entirely mythical: despite "supporting" hagiographies and epic poetry, such as The Song of Roland (La Chanson de Roland, c. 12th century), he sought scientific legitimation by basing his racialist distinction on the historical existence of genetically and linguistically distinguished Germanic and Latin-speaking peoples in France. His theory of race was distinct from the biological facts manipulated in 19th-century scientific racism [ citation needed ] (cf. Cultural relativism).

Richard Bradley

Richard Bradley (1688–1732) was an English naturalist. In his book "Philosophical Account of the Works of Nature" (1721), he claimed there to be "five sorts of men" based on their skin colour and other physical characteristics: white Europeans with beards white men in America without beards (meaning Native Americans) men with copper colour skin, small eyes and straight black hair Blacks with straight black hair and Blacks with curly hair. It has been speculated that his account inspired Linnaeus' later categorisation. [20]

Lord Kames

The Scottish lawyer Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696–1782) was a polygenist he believed God had created different races on Earth in separate regions. In his 1734 book Sketches on the History of Man, Home claimed that the environment, climate, or state of society could not account for racial differences, so the races must have come from distinct, separate stocks. [21]

Carl Linnaeus

Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), the Swedish physician, botanist, and zoologist, modified the established taxonomic bases of binomial nomenclature for fauna and flora, and also made a classification of humans into different subgroups. In the twelfth edition of Systema Naturae (1767), he labeled five [22] "varieties" [23] [24] of human species. Each one was described as possessing the following physiognomic characteristics "varying by culture and place": [25]

  • The Americanus: red, choleric, righteous black, straight, thick hair stubborn, zealous, free painting himself with red lines, and regulated by customs. [26]
  • The Europeanus: white, sanguine, browny with abundant, long hair blue eyes gentle, acute, inventive covered with close vestments and governed by laws. [27]
  • The Asiaticus: yellow, melancholic, stiff black hair, dark eyes severe, haughty, greedy covered with loose clothing and ruled by opinions. [28]
  • The Afer or Africanus: black, phlegmatic, relaxed black, frizzled hair silky skin, flat nose, tumid lips females without shame mammary glands give milk abundantly crafty, sly, lazy, cunning, lustful, careless anoints himself with grease and governed by caprice. [29]
  • The Monstrosus were mythologic humans which did not appear in the first editions of Systema Naturae. The sub-species included the "four-footed, mute, hairy" Homo feralis (Feral man) the animal-reared Juvenis lupinus hessensis (Hessian wolf boy), the Juvenis hannoveranus (Hannoverian boy), the Puella campanica (Wild-girl of Champagne), and the agile, but faint-hearted Homo monstrosus (Monstrous man): the Patagonian giant, the Dwarf of the Alps, and the monorchidKhoikhoi (Hottentot). In Amoenitates academicae (1763), Linnaeus presented the mythologicHomo anthropomorpha (Anthropomorphic man), humanoid creatures, such as the troglodyte, the satyr, the hydra, and the phoenix, incorrectly identified as simian creatures. [30]

There are disagreements about the basis for Linnaeus' human taxa. On the one hand, his harshest critics say the classification was not only ethnocentric but seemed to be based upon skin-color. Renato G Mazzolini have argued the skin-colour based classification at its core were a white/black polarity, and that Linnaeus thinking became paradigmatic for later racist thinking. [31] On the other hand, Quintyn (2010) points out that some authors believe the classification was based upon geographical distribution, being cartographically based, and not hierarchical. [32] In the opinion of Kenneth A.R. Kennedy (1976), Linnaeus certainly considered his own culture better, but his motives for classification of human varieties were not race-centered. [33] Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould (1994) argued that the taxa was "not in the ranked order favored by most Europeans in the racist tradition", and that Linnaeus' division was influenced by the medical theory of humors which said that a person's temperament may be related to biological fluids. [34] [35] In a 1997 essay, Gould added: "I don't mean to deny that Linnaeus held conventional beliefs about the superiority of his own European variety over others. nevertheless, and despite these implications, the overt geometry of Linnaeus' model is not linear or hierarchical." [36]

In a 2008 essay published by the Linnean Society of London, Marie-Christine Skuncke interpreted Linnaeus' statements as reflecting a view that "Europeans' superiority resides in "culture", and that the decisive factor in Linnaeus' taxa was "culture", not race. Thus, regarding this topic, they consider Linnaeus' view as merely "eurocentric", arguing that Linnaeus never called for racist action, and did not use the word "race", which was only introduced later "by his French opponent Buffon". [37] However, the anthropologist Ashley Montagu, in his book Man's Most Dangerous Myth: the Fallacy of Race, points out that Buffon, indeed "the enemy of all rigid classifications", [38] was diametrically opposed to such broad categories and did not use the word "race" to describe them. "It was quite clear, after reading Buffon, that he uses the word in no narrowly defined, but rather in a general sense," [38] wrote Montagu, pointing out that Buffon did employ the French word la race, but as a collective term for whatever population he happened to be discussing at the time: for instance, "The Danish, Swedish, and Muscovite Laplanders, the inhabitants of Nova-Zembla, the Borandians, the Samoiedes, the Ostiacks of the old continent, the Greenlanders, and the savages to the north of the Esquimaux Indians, of the new continent, appear to be of one common race." [39]

Scholar Stanley A. Rice agrees that Linnaeus' classification was not meant to "imply a hierarchy of humanness or superiority" [40] although modern critics see that his classification was obviously stereotyped, and erroneous for having included anthropological, non-biological features such as customs or traditions.

John Hunter

John Hunter (1728–1793), a Scottish surgeon, said that originally the Negroid race was white at birth. He thought that over time because of the sun, the people turned dark skinned, or "black". Hunter also said that blisters and burns would likely turn white on a Negro, which he believed was evidence that their ancestors were originally white. [41]

Charles White

Charles White (1728–1813), an English physician and surgeon, believed that races occupied different stations in the "Great Chain of Being", and he tried to scientifically prove that human races have distinct origins from each other. He believed that whites and Negroes were two different species. White was a believer in polygeny, the idea that different races had been created separately. His Account of the Regular Gradation in Man (1799) provided an empirical basis for this idea. White defended the theory of polygeny by rebutting French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon's interfertility argument, which said that only the same species can interbreed. White pointed to species hybrids such as foxes, wolves, and jackals, which were separate groups that were still able to interbreed. For White, each race was a separate species, divinely created for its own geographical region. [21]

Buffon and Blumenbach

The French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707–1788) and the German anatomist Johann Blumenbach (1752–1840) were proponents of monogenism, the concept that all races have a single origin. [42] Buffon and Blumenbach believed a "degeneration theory" of the origins of racial difference. [42] Both said that Adam and Eve were white and that other races came about by degeneration owing to environmental factors, such as climate, disease, and diet. [42] According to this model, Negroid pigmentation arose because of the heat of the tropical sun, that cold wind caused the tawny colour of the Eskimos, and that the Chinese had fairer skins than the Tartars because the former kept mostly in towns and were protected from environmental factors. [42] Environmental factors, poverty, and hybridization could make races "degenerate" and differentiate them from the original white race by a process of "raciation". [42] Unusually, both Buffon and Blumenbach believed that the degeneration could be reversed if proper environmental control was taken, and that all contemporary forms of man could revert to the original white race. [42]

According to Blumenbach, there are five races, all belonging to a single species: Caucasian, Mongolian, Negroid, American, and the Malay race. Blumenbach said: "I have allotted the first place to the Caucasian for the reasons given below which make me esteem it the primeval one." [43]

Before James Hutton and the emergence of scientific geology, many believed the earth was only 6,000 years old. Buffon had conducted experiments with heated balls of iron which he believed were a model for the earth's core and concluded that the earth was 75,000 years old, but did not extend the time since Adam and the origin of humanity back more than 8,000 years – not much further than the 6,000 years of the prevailing Ussher chronology subscribed to by most of the monogenists. [42] Opponents of monogenism believed that it would have been difficult for races to change markedly in such a short period of time. [42]

Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Rush (1745–1813), a Founding Father of the United States and a physician, proposed that being black was a hereditary skin disease, which he called "negroidism", and that it could be cured. Rush believed non-whites were really white underneath but they were stricken with a non-contagious form of leprosy which darkened their skin color. Rush drew the conclusion that "whites should not tyrannize over [blacks], for their disease should entitle them to a double portion of humanity. However, by the same token, whites should not intermarry with them, for this would tend to infect posterity with the 'disorder'. attempts must be made to cure the disease". [44]

Christoph Meiners

Christoph Meiners (1747–1810) was a German polygenist and believed that each race had a separate origin. Meiner studied the physical, mental and moral characteristics of each race, and built a race hierarchy based on his findings. Meiners split mankind into two divisions, which he labelled the "beautiful white race" and the "ugly black race". In Meiners's book The Outline of History of Mankind, he said that a main characteristic of race is either beauty or ugliness. He thought only the white race to be beautiful. He considered ugly races to be inferior, immoral and animal-like. He said that the dark, ugly peoples were distinct from the white, beautiful peoples by their "sad" lack of virtue and their "terrible vices". [45] According to Meiners, [ citation needed ]

The more intelligent and noble people are by nature, the more adaptable, sensitive, delicate, and soft is their body on the other hand, the less they possess the capacity and disposition towards virtue, the more they lack adaptability and not only that, but the less sensitive are their bodies, the more can they tolerate extreme pain or the rapid alteration of heat and cold when they are exposed to illnesses, the more rapid their recovery from wounds that would be fatal for more sensitive peoples, and the more they can partake of the worst and most indigestible foods . without noticeable ill effects.

Meiners said the Negro felt less pain than any other race and lacked in emotions. Meiners wrote that the Negro had thick nerves and thus was not sensitive like the other races. He went as far as to say that the Negro has "no human, barely any animal, feeling". He described a story where a Negro was condemned to death by being burned alive. Halfway through the burning, the Negro asked to smoke a pipe and smoked it like nothing was happening while he continued to be burned alive. Meiners studied the anatomy of the Negro and came to the conclusion that Negroes have bigger teeth and jaws than any other race, as Negroes are all carnivores. Meiners claimed the skull of the Negro was larger but the brain of the Negro was smaller than any other race. Meiners claimed the Negro was the most unhealthy race on Earth because of its poor diet, mode of living and lack of morals. [46]

Meiners also claimed the "Americans" were an inferior stock of people. He said they could not adapt to different climates, types of food, or modes of life, and that when exposed to such new conditions, they lapse into a "deadly melancholy". Meiners studied the diet of the Americans and said they fed off any kind of "foul offal". He thought they consumed very much alcohol. He believed their skulls were so thick that the blades of Spanish swords shattered on them. Meiners also claimed the skin of an American is thicker than that of an ox. [46]

Meiners wrote that the noblest race was the Celts. They were able to conquer various parts of the world, they were more sensitive to heat and cold, and their delicacy is shown by the way they are selective about what they eat. Meiners claimed that Slavs are an inferior race, "less sensitive and content with eating rough food". He described stories of Slavs allegedly eating poisonous fungi without coming to any harm. He claimed that their medical techniques were also backward: he used as an example their heating sick people in ovens, then making them roll in the snow. [46]

In Meiners's large work entitled Researches on the Variations in Human Nature (1815), he studied also the sexology of each race. He claimed that the African Negroids have unduly strong and perverted sex drives, whilst only the white Europeans have it just right.

Later thinkers

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was an American politician, scientist, [47] [48] and slave owner. His contributions to scientific racism have been noted by many historians, scientists and scholars. According to an article published in the McGill Journal of Medicine: "One of the most influential pre-Darwinian racial theorists, Jefferson's call for science to determine the obvious "inferiority" of African Americans is an extremely important stage in the evolution of scientific racism." [49] The historian Paul Finkelman described Jefferson in The New York Times as follows: "A scientist, Jefferson nevertheless speculated that blackness might come "from the color of the blood" and concluded that blacks were "inferior to the whites in the endowments of body and mind." [50] In his "Notes on the State of Virginia" Jefferson described black people as follows: [51]

They seem to require less sleep. A black, after hard labor through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection. Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites in reason much inferior, as I think one [black] could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous. I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.

However, by 1791, Jefferson had to reassess his earlier suspicions of whether blacks were capable of intelligence when he was presented with a letter and almanac from Benjamin Banneker, an educated black mathematician. Delighted to have discovered scientific proof for the existence of black intelligence, Jefferson wrote to Banneker: [52]

No body wishes more than I do to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given to our black brethren, talents equal to those of the other colors of men, & that the appearance of a want of them is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence both in Africa & America. I can add with truth that no body wishes more ardently to see a good system commenced for raising the condition both of their body & mind to what it ought to be, as fast as the imbecility of their present existence, and other circumstance which cannot be neglected, will admit.

Samuel Stanhope Smith

Samuel Stanhope Smith (1751–1819) was an American Presbyterian minister and author of Essay on the Causes of Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species in 1787. Smith claimed that Negro pigmentation was nothing more than a huge freckle that covered the whole body as a result of an oversupply of bile, which was caused by tropical climates. [53]

Georges Cuvier

Racial studies by Georges Cuvier (1769–1832), the French naturalist and zoologist, influenced scientific polygenism and scientific racism. Cuvier believed there were three distinct races: the Caucasian (white), Mongolian (yellow) and the Ethiopian (black). He rated each for the beauty or ugliness of the skull and quality of their civilizations. Cuvier wrote about Caucasians: "The white race, with oval face, straight hair and nose, to which the civilised people of Europe belong and which appear to us the most beautiful of all, is also superior to others by its genius, courage and activity". [54]

Regarding Negroes, Cuvier wrote: [55]

The Negro race . is marked by black complexion, crisped or woolly hair, compressed cranium and a flat nose. The projection of the lower parts of the face, and the thick lips, evidently approximate it to the monkey tribe: the hordes of which it consists have always remained in the most complete state of barbarism.

He thought Adam and Eve were Caucasian and hence the original race of mankind. The other two races arose by survivors' escaping in different directions after a major catastrophe hit the earth 5,000 years ago. He theorized that the survivors lived in complete isolation from each other and developed separately. [56] [57]

One of Cuvier's pupils, Friedrich Tiedemann, was one of the first to make a scientific contestation of racism. He argued based on craniometric and brain measurements taken by him from Europeans and black people from different parts of the world that the then-common European belief that Negroes have smaller brains, and are thus intellectually inferior, is scientifically unfounded and based merely on the prejudice of travellers and explorers. [58]

Arthur Schopenhauer

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860) attributed civilizational primacy to the white races, who gained sensitivity and intelligence via the refinement caused by living in the rigorous Northern climate: [59]

The highest civilization and culture, apart from the ancient Hindus and Egyptians, are found exclusively among the white races and even with many dark peoples, the ruling caste, or race, is fairer in colour than the rest, and has, therefore, evidently immigrated, for example, the Brahmins, the Inca, and the rulers of the South Sea Islands. All this is due to the fact that necessity is the mother of invention, because those tribes that emigrated early to the north, and there gradually became white, had to develop all their intellectual powers, and invent and perfect all the arts in their struggle with need, want, and misery, which, in their many forms, were brought about by the climate. This they had to do in order to make up for the parsimony of nature, and out of it all came their high civilization.

Franz Ignaz Pruner

Franz Ignaz Pruner (1808–1882) was a medical doctor who studied the racial structure of Negroes in Egypt. In a book which he wrote in 1846 he claimed that Negro blood had a negative influence on the Egyptian moral character. He published a monograph on Negroes in 1861. He claimed that the main feature of the Negro's skeleton is prognathism, which he claimed was the Negro's relation to the ape. He also claimed that Negroes had brains very similar to those of apes and that Negroes have a shortened big toe, a characteristic, he said, that connected Negroes closely to apes. [60]

The scientific classification established by Carl Linnaeus is requisite to any human racial classification scheme. In the 19th century, unilineal evolution, or classical social evolution, was a conflation of competing sociologic and anthropologic theories proposing that Western European culture was the acme of human socio-cultural evolution. The proposal that social status is unilineal—from primitive to civilized, from agricultural to industrial—became popular among philosophers, including Friedrich Hegel, Immanuel Kant, and Auguste Comte. The Christian Bible was interpreted to sanction slavery and from the 1820s to the 1850s was often used in the antebellum Southern United States, by writers such as the Rev. Richard Furman and Thomas R. Cobb, to enforce the idea that Negroes had been created inferior, and thus suited to slavery. [61]

Arthur de Gobineau

The French aristocrat and writer Arthur de Gobineau (1816–1882), is best known for his book An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (1853–55) which proposed three human races (black, white and yellow) were natural barriers and claimed that race mixing would lead to the collapse of culture and civilization. He claimed that "The white race originally possessed the monopoly of beauty, intelligence and strength" and that any positive accomplishments or thinking of blacks and Asians were due to an admixture with whites. His works were praised by many white supremacist American pro-slavery thinkers such as Josiah C. Nott and Henry Hotze.

Gobineau believed that the different races originated in different areas, the white race had originated somewhere in Siberia, the Asians in the Americas and the blacks in Africa. He believed that the white race was superior, writing:

I will not wait for the friends of equality to show me such and such passages in books written by missionaries or sea captains, who declare some Wolof is a fine carpenter, some Hottentot a good servant, that a Kaffir dances and plays the violin, that some Bambara knows arithmetic… Let us leave aside these puerilities and compare together not men, but groups. [62]

Gobineau later used the term "Aryans" to describe the Germanic peoples (la race germanique). [63]

Gobineau's works were also influential to the Nazi Party, which published his works in German. They played a key role in the master race theory of Nazism.

Carl Vogt

Another polygenist evolutionist was Carl Vogt (1817–1895) who believed that the Negro race was related to the ape. He wrote the white race was a separate species to Negroes. In Chapter VII of his Lectures of Man (1864) he compared the Negro to the white race whom he described as "two extreme human types". The difference between them, he claimed are greater than those between two species of ape and this proves that Negroes are a separate species from the whites. [64]

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin's views on race have been a topic of much discussion and debate. According to Jackson and Weidman, Darwin was a moderate in the 19th century debates about race. "He was not a confirmed racist — he was a staunch abolitionist, for example — but he did think that there were distinct races that could be ranked in a hierarchy." [65]

Darwin's influential 1859 book On the Origin of Species did not discuss human origins. The extended wording on the title page, which adds by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, uses the general terminology of biological races as an alternative for "varieties" and does not carry the modern connotation of human races. In The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), Darwin examined the question of "Arguments in favour of, and opposed to, ranking the so-called races of man as distinct species" and reported no racial distinctions that would indicate that human races are discrete species. [61] [66]

The historian Richard Hofstadter wrote, "Although Darwinism was not the primary source of the belligerent ideology and dogmatic racism of the late nineteenth century, it did become a new instrument in the hands of the theorists of race and struggle. The Darwinist mood sustained the belief in Anglo-Saxon racial superiority which obsessed many American thinkers in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The measure of world domination already achieved by the 'race' seemed to prove it the fittest." [67] According to the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, "The subtitle of [The Origin of Species] made a convenient motto for racists: 'The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.' Darwin, of course, took 'races' to mean varieties or species but it was no violation of his meaning to extend it to human races. Darwin himself, in spite of his aversion to slavery, was not averse to the idea that some races were more fit than others." [68]

On the other hand, Robert Bannister defended Darwin on the issue of race, writing that "Upon closer inspection, the case against Darwin himself quickly unravels. An ardent opponent of slavery, he consistently opposed the oppression of nonwhites. Although by modern standards The Descent of Man is frustratingly inconclusive on the critical issues of human equality, it was a model of moderation and scientific caution in the context of midcentury racism." [69]

Herbert Hope Risley

As an exponent of "race science", colonial administrator Herbert Hope Risley (1851–1911) used the ratio of the width of a nose to its height to divide Indian people into Aryan and Dravidian races, as well as seven castes. [70] [71]

Ernst Haeckel

Like most of Darwin's supporters, [ citation needed ] Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) put forward a doctrine of evolutionary polygenism based on the ideas of the linguist and polygenist August Schleicher, in which several different language groups had arisen separately from speechless prehuman Urmenschen (German for "original humans"), which themselves had evolved from simian ancestors. These separate languages had completed the transition from animals to man, and, under the influence of each main branch of languages, humans had evolved as separate species, which could be subdivided into races. Haeckel divided human beings into ten races, of which the Caucasian was the highest and the primitives were doomed to extinction. [72] Haeckel was also an advocate of the out of Asia theory by writing that the origin of humanity was to be found in Asia he believed that Hindustan (South Asia) was the actual location where the first humans had evolved. Haeckel argued that humans were closely related to the primates of Southeast Asia and rejected Darwin's hypothesis of Africa. [73] [74]

Haeckel also wrote that Negroes have stronger and more freely movable toes than any other race which is evidence that Negroes are related to apes because when apes stop climbing in trees they hold on to the trees with their toes. Haeckel compared Negroes to "four-handed" apes. Haeckel also believed Negroes were savages and that whites were the most civilised. [64]

Nationalism of Lapouge and Herder

At the 19th century's end, scientific racism conflated Greco-Roman eugenicism with Francis Galton's concept of voluntary eugenics to produce a form of coercive, anti-immigrant government programs influenced by other socio-political discourses and events. Such institutional racism was effected via Phrenology, telling character from physiognomy craniometric skull and skeleton studies thus skulls and skeletons of black people and other colored volk, were displayed between apes and white men.

In 1906, Ota Benga, a Pygmy, was displayed as the "Missing Link", in the Bronx Zoo, New York City, alongside apes and animals. The most influential theorists included the anthropologist Georges Vacher de Lapouge (1854–1936) who proposed "anthroposociology" and Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803), who applied "race" to nationalist theory, thereby developing the first conception of ethnic nationalism. In 1882, Ernest Renan contradicted Herder with a nationalism based upon the "will to live together", not founded upon ethnic or racial prerequisites (see Civic nationalism). Scientific racist discourse posited the historical existence of "national races" such as the Deutsche Volk in Germany, and the "French race" being a branch of the basal "Aryan race" extant for millennia, to advocate for geopolitical borders parallel to the racial ones.

Craniometry and physical anthropology

The Dutch scholar Pieter Camper (1722–89), an early craniometric theoretician, used "craniometry" (interior skull-volume measurement) to scientifically justify racial differences. In 1770, he conceived of the facial angle to measure intelligence among species of men. The facial angle was formed by drawing two lines: a horizontal line from nostril to ear and a vertical line from the upper-jawbone prominence to the forehead prominence. Camper's craniometry reported that antique statues (the Greco-Roman ideal) had a 90-degree facial angle, whites an 80-degree angle, blacks a 70-degree angle, and the orangutan a 58-degree facial angle—thus he established a racist biological hierarchy for mankind, per the Decadent conception of history. Such scientific racist researches were continued by the naturalist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1772–1844) and the anthropologist Paul Broca (1824–1880).

Samuel George Morton

In the 19th century, an early American physical anthropologist, physician and polygenist Samuel George Morton (1799–1851), collected human skulls from worldwide, and attempted a logical classification scheme. Influenced by contemporary racialist theory, Dr Morton said he could judge racial intellectual capacity by measuring the interior cranial capacity, hence a large skull denoted a large brain, thus high intellectual capacity. Conversely, a small skull denoted a small brain, thus low intellectual capacity superior and inferior established. After inspecting three mummies from ancient Egyptian catacombs, Morton concluded that Caucasians and Negroes were already distinct three thousand years ago. Since interpretations of the bible indicated that Noah's Ark had washed up on Mount Ararat only a thousand years earlier, Morton claimed that Noah's sons could not possibly account for every race on earth. According to Morton's theory of polygenesis, races have been separate since the start. [75]

In Morton's Crania Americana, his claims were based on Craniometry data, that the Caucasians had the biggest brains, averaging 87 cubic inches, Native Americans were in the middle with an average of 82 cubic inches and Negroes had the smallest brains with an average of 78 cubic inches. [75]

In The Mismeasure of Man (1981), the evolutionary biologist and historian of science Stephen Jay Gould argued that Samuel Morton had falsified the craniometric data, perhaps inadvertently over-packing some skulls, to so produce results that would legitimize the racist presumptions he was attempting to prove. A subsequent study by the anthropologist John Michael found Morton's original data to be more accurate than Gould describes, concluding that "[c]ontrary to Gould's interpretation. Morton's research was conducted with integrity". [76] Jason Lewis and colleagues reached similar conclusions as Michael in their reanalysis of Morton's skull collection however, they depart from Morton's racist conclusions by adding that "studies have demonstrated that modern human variation is generally continuous, rather than discrete or "racial", and that most variation in modern humans is within, rather than between, populations". [77]

In 1873, Paul Broca, founder of the Anthropological Society of Paris (1859), found the same pattern of measures—that Crania Americana reported—by weighing specimen brains at autopsy. Other historical studies, proposing a black race–white race, intelligence–brain size difference, include those by Bean (1906), Mall (1909), Pearl (1934), and Vint (1934).

Nicolás Palacios

After the War of the Pacific (1879–83) there was a rise of racial and national superiority ideas among the Chilean ruling class. [78] In his 1918 book physician Nicolás Palacios argued for the existence of Chilean race and its superiority when compared to neighboring peoples. He thought Chileans were a mix of two martial races: the indigenous Mapuches and the Visigoths of Spain, who descended ultimately from Götaland in Sweden. Palacios argued on medical grounds against immigration to Chile from southern Europe claiming that Mestizos who are of south European stock lack "cerebral control" and are a social burden. [79]

Monogenism and polygenism

Samuel Morton's followers, especially Dr Josiah C. Nott (1804–1873) and George Gliddon (1809–1857), extended Dr Morton's ideas in Types of Mankind (1854), claiming that Morton's findings supported the notion of polygenism (mankind has discrete genetic ancestries the races are evolutionarily unrelated), which is a predecessor of the modern human multiregional origin hypothesis. Moreover, Morton himself had been reluctant to espouse polygenism, because it theologically challenged the Christian creation myth espoused in the Bible.

Later, in The Descent of Man (1871), Charles Darwin proposed the single-origin hypothesis, i.e., monogenism—mankind has a common genetic ancestry, the races are related, opposing everything that the polygenism of Nott and Gliddon proposed.


One of the first typologies used to classify various human races was invented by Georges Vacher de Lapouge (1854–1936), a theoretician of eugenics, who published in 1899 L'Aryen et son rôle social (1899 – "The Aryan and his social role"). In this book, he classified humanity into various, hierarchized races, spanning from the "Aryan white race, dolichocephalic", to the "brachycephalic", "mediocre and inert" race, best represented by Southern European, Catholic peasants". [80] Between these, Vacher de Lapouge identified the "Homo europaeus" (Teutonic, Protestant, etc.), the "Homo alpinus" (Auvergnat, Turkish, etc.), and finally the "Homo mediterraneus" (Neapolitan, Andalus, etc.) Jews were brachycephalic like the Aryans, according to Lapouge but exactly for this reason he considered them to be dangerous they were the only group, he thought, threatening to displace the Aryan aristocracy. [81] Vacher de Lapouge became one of the leading inspirators of Nazi antisemitism and Nazi racist ideology. [82]

Vacher de Lapouge's classification was mirrored in William Z. Ripley in The Races of Europe (1899), a book which had a large influence on American white supremacism. Ripley even made a map of Europe according to the alleged cephalic index of its inhabitants. He was an important influence of the American eugenist Madison Grant.

Furthermore, according to John Efron of Indiana University, the late 19th century also witnessed "the scientizing of anti-Jewish prejudice", stigmatizing Jews with male menstruation, pathological hysteria, and nymphomania. [83] [84] At the same time, several Jews, such as Joseph Jacobs or Samuel Weissenberg, also endorsed the same pseudoscientific theories, convinced that the Jews formed a distinct race. [83] [84] Chaim Zhitlovsky also attempted to define Yiddishkayt (Ashkenazi Jewishness) by turning to contemporary racial theory. [85]

Joseph Deniker (1852–1918) was one of William Z. Ripley's principal opponents whereas Ripley maintained, as did Vacher de Lapouge, that the European populace comprised three races, Joseph Deniker proposed that the European populace comprised ten races (six primary and four sub-races). Furthermore, he proposed that the concept of "race" was ambiguous, and in its stead proposed the compound word "ethnic group", which later prominently featured in the works of Julian Huxley and Alfred C. Haddon. Moreover, Ripley argued that Deniker's "race" idea should be denoted a "type", because it was less biologically rigid than most racial classifications.


Joseph Deniker's contribution to racist theory was La Race nordique (the Nordic race), a generic, racial-stock descriptor, which the American eugenicist Madison Grant (1865–1937) presented as the white racial engine of world civilization. Having adopted Ripley's three-race European populace model, but disliking the "Teuton" race name, he transliterated la race nordique into "The Nordic race", the acme of the concocted racial hierarchy, based upon his racial classification theory, popular in the 1910s and 1920s.

State Institute for Racial Biology (Swedish: Statens Institut för Rasbiologi) and its director Herman Lundborg in Sweden were active in racist research. Furthermore, much of early research on Ural-Altaic languages was coloured by attempts at justifying the view that European peoples east of Sweden were Asian and thus of inferior race, justifying colonialism, eugenics and racial hygiene. [ citation needed ] The book The Passing of the Great Race (Or, The Racial Basis of European History) by American eugenicist, lawyer, and amateur anthropologist Madison Grant was published in 1916. Though influential, the book was largely ignored when it first appeared, and it went through several revisions and editions. Nevertheless, the book was used by people who advocated restricted immigration as justification for what became known as scientific racism. [86]

Justification of slavery in the United States

In the United States, scientific racism justified Black African slavery to assuage moral opposition to the Atlantic slave trade. Alexander Thomas and Samuell Sillen described black men as uniquely fitted for bondage, because of their "primitive psychological organization". [87] In 1851, in antebellum Louisiana, the physician Samuel A. Cartwright (1793–1863) wrote of slave escape attempts as "drapetomania", a treatable mental illness, that "with proper medical advice, strictly followed, this troublesome practice that many Negroes have of running away can be almost entirely prevented". The term drapetomania (mania of the runaway slave) derives from the Greek δραπέτης (drapetes, "a runaway [slave]") and μανία (mania, "madness, frenzy") [88] Cartwright also described dysaesthesia aethiopica, called "rascality" by overseers. The 1840 United States Census claimed that Northern, free blacks suffered mental illness at higher rates than did their Southern, enslaved counterparts. Though the census was later found to have been severely flawed by the American Statistical Association, it became a political weapon against abolitionists. Southern slavers concluded that escaping Negroes were suffering from "mental disorders". [89]

At the time of the American Civil War (1861–65), the matter of miscegenation prompted studies of ostensible physiological differences between Caucasians and Negroes. Early anthropologists, such as Josiah Clark Nott, George Robins Gliddon, Robert Knox, and Samuel George Morton, aimed to scientifically prove that Negroes were a human species different from the white people that the rulers of Ancient Egypt were not African and that mixed-race offspring (the product of miscegenation) tended to physical weakness and infertility. After the Civil War, Southern (Confederacy) physicians wrote textbooks of scientific racism based upon studies claiming that black freemen (ex-slaves) were becoming extinct, because they were inadequate to the demands of being a free man—implying that black people benefited from enslavement.

In Medical Apartheid, Harriet A. Washington noted the prevalence of two different views on blacks in the 19th century: the belief that they were inferior and "riddled with imperfections from head to toe", and the idea that they didn't know true pain and suffering because of their primitive nervous systems (and that slavery was therefore justifiable). Washington noted the failure of scientists to accept the inconsistency between these two viewpoints, writing that "in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, scientific racism was simply science, and it was promulgated by the very best minds at the most prestigious institutions of the nation. Other, more logical medical theories stressed the equality of Africans and laid poor black health at the feet of their abusers, but these never enjoyed the appeal of the medical philosophy that justified slavery and, along with it, our nation's profitable way of life." [90]

Even after the end of the Civil War, some scientists continued to justify the institution of slavery by citing the effect of topography and climate on racial development. Nathaniel Shaler, a prominent geologist at Harvard University from 1869-1906, published the book Man and the Earth in 1905 describing the physical geography of different continents and linking these geologic settings to the intelligence and strength of human races that inhabited these spaces. Shaler argued that North American climate and geology was ideally suited for the institution of slavery. [91]

South African apartheid

Scientific racism played a role in establishing apartheid in South Africa. In South Africa, white scientists, like Dudly Kidd, who published The essential Kafir in 1904, sought to "understand the African mind". They believed that the cultural differences between whites and blacks in South Africa might be caused by physiological differences in the brain. Rather than suggesting that Africans were "overgrown children", as early white explorers had, Kidd believed that Africans were "misgrown with a vengeance". He described Africans as at once "hopelessly deficient", yet "very shrewd". [92]

The Carnegie Commission on the Poor White Problem in South Africa played a key role in establishing apartheid in South Africa. According to one memorandum sent to Frederick Keppel, then president of the Carnegie Corporation, there was "little doubt that if the natives were given full economic opportunity, the more competent among them would soon outstrip the less competent whites". [93] Keppel's support for the project of creating the report was motivated by his concern with the maintenance of existing racial boundaries. [93] The preoccupation of the Carnegie Corporation with the so-called poor white problem in South Africa was at least in part the outcome of similar misgivings about the state of poor whites in the southern United States. [93]

The report was five volumes in length. [94] Around the start of the 20th century, white Americans, and whites elsewhere in the world, felt uneasy because poverty and economic depression seemed to strike people regardless of race. [94]

Though the ground work for apartheid began earlier, the report provided support for this central idea of black inferiority. This was used to justify racial segregation and discrimination [95] in the following decades. [96] The report expressed fear about the loss of white racial pride, and in particular pointed to the danger that the poor white would not be able to resist the process of "Africanisation". [93]

Although scientific racism played a role in justifying and supporting institutional racism in South Africa, it was not as important in South Africa as it has been in Europe and the United States. This was due in part to the "poor white problem", which raised serious questions for supremacists about white racial superiority. [92] Since poor whites were found to be in the same situation as natives in the African environment, the idea that intrinsic white superiority could overcome any environment did not seem to hold. As such, scientific justifications for racism were not as useful in South Africa. [92]


Stephen Jay Gould described Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race (1916) as "the most influential tract of American scientific racism." In the 1920s–30s, the German racial hygiene movement embraced Grant's Nordic theory. Alfred Ploetz (1860–1940) coined the term Rassenhygiene in Racial Hygiene Basics (1895), and founded the German Society for Racial Hygiene in 1905. The movement advocated selective breeding, compulsory sterilization, and a close alignment of public health with eugenics.

Racial hygiene was historically tied to traditional notions of public health, but with emphasis on heredity—what philosopher and historian Michel Foucault has called state racism. In 1869, Francis Galton (1822–1911) proposed the first social measures meant to preserve or enhance biological characteristics, and later coined the term "eugenics". Galton, a statistician, introduced correlation and regression analysis and discovered regression toward the mean. He was also the first to study human differences and inheritance of intelligence with statistical methods. He introduced the use of questionnaires and surveys to collect data on population sets, which he needed for genealogical and biographical works and for anthropometric studies. Galton also founded psychometrics, the science of measuring mental faculties, and differential psychology, a branch of psychology concerned with psychological differences between people rather than common traits.

Like scientific racism, eugenics grew popular in the early 20th century, and both ideas influenced Nazi racial policies and Nazi eugenics. In 1901, Galton, Karl Pearson (1857–1936) and Walter F.R. Weldon (1860–1906) founded the Biometrika scientific journal, which promoted biometrics and statistical analysis of heredity. Charles Davenport (1866–1944) was briefly involved in the review. In Race Crossing in Jamaica (1929), he made statistical arguments that biological and cultural degradation followed white and black interbreeding. Davenport was connected to Nazi Germany before and during World War II. In 1939 he wrote a contribution to the festschrift for Otto Reche (1879–1966), who became an important figure within the plan to remove populations considered "inferior" from eastern Germany. [97]

Scientific racism continued through the early 20th century, and soon intelligence testing became a new source for racial comparisons. Before World War II (1939–45), scientific racism remained common to anthropology, and was used as justification for eugenics programs, compulsory sterilization, anti-miscegenation laws, and immigration restrictions in Europe and the United States. The war crimes and crimes against humanity of Nazi Germany (1933–45) discredited scientific racism in academia, [ citation needed ] but racist legislation based upon it remained in some countries until the late 1960s.

Early intelligence testing and the Immigration Act of 1924

Before the 1920s, social scientists agreed that whites were superior to blacks, but they needed a way to prove this in order to back social policy in favor of whites. They felt the best way to gauge this was through testing intelligence. By interpreting the tests to show favor to whites these test makers' research results portrayed all minority groups very negatively. [12] [98] In 1908, Henry Goddard translated the Binet intelligence test from French and in 1912 began to apply the test to incoming immigrants on Ellis Island. [99] Some claim that in a study of immigrants Goddard reached the conclusion that 87% of Russians, 83% of Jews, 80% of Hungarians, and 79% of Italians were feeble-minded and had a mental age less than 12. [100] Some have also claimed that this information was taken as "evidence" by lawmakers and thus it affected social policy for years. [101] Bernard Davis has pointed out that, in the first sentence of his paper, Goddard wrote that the subjects of the study were not typical members of their groups but were selected because of their suspected sub-normal intelligence. Davis has further noted that Goddard argued that the low IQs of the test subjects were more likely due to environmental rather than genetic factors, and that Goddard concluded that "we may be confident that their children will be of average intelligence and if rightly brought up will be good citizens". [102] In 1996 the American Psychological Association's Board of Scientific Affairs stated that IQ tests were not discriminatory towards any ethnic/racial groups. [103]

In his book The Mismeasure of Man, Stephen Jay Gould argued that intelligence testing results played a major role in the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924 that restricted immigration to the United States. [104] However, Mark Snyderman and Richard J. Herrnstein, after studying the Congressional Record and committee hearings related to the Immigration Act, concluded "the [intelligence] testing community did not generally view its findings as favoring restrictive immigration policies like those in the 1924 Act, and Congress took virtually no notice of intelligence testing". [105]

Juan N. Franco contested the findings of Snyderman and Herrnstein. Franco stated that even though Snyderman and Herrnstein reported that the data collected from the results of the intelligence tests were in no way used to pass The Immigration Act of 1924, the IQ test results were still taken into consideration by legislators. As suggestive evidence, Franco pointed to the following fact: Following the passage of the immigration act, information from the 1890 census was used to set quotas based on percentages of immigrants coming from different countries. Based on these data, the legislature restricted the entrance of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe into the United States and allowed more immigrants from northern and Western Europe into the country. The use of the 1900, 1910 or 1920 census data sets would have resulted in larger numbers of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe being allowed into the U.S. However, Franco pointed out that using the 1890 census data allowed congress to exclude southern and eastern Europeans (who performed worse on IQ tests of the time than did western and northern Europeans) from the U.S. Franco argued that the work Snyderman and Herrnstein conducted on this matter neither proved or disproved that intelligence testing influenced immigration laws. [106]


Following the creation of the first society for the promotion of racial hygiene, the German Society for Racial Hygiene in 1905—a Swedish society was founded in 1909 as "Svenska sällskapet för rashygien" as third in the world. [107] [108] By lobbying Swedish parliamentarians and medical institutes the society managed to pass a decree creating a government run institute in the form of the Swedish State Institute for Racial Biology in 1921. [107] By 1922 the institute was built and opened in Uppsala. [107] It was the first such government-funded institute in the world performing research into "racial biology" and remains highly controversial to this day. [107] [109] It was the most prominent institution for the study of "racial science" in Sweden. [110] The goal was to cure criminality, alcoholism and psychiatric problems through research in eugenics and racial hygiene. [107] As a result of the institutes work a law permitting compulsory sterilization of certain groups was enacted in Sweden in 1934. [111] The second president of the institute Gunnar Dahlberg was highly critical of the validity of the science performed at the institute and reshaped the institute toward a focus on genetics. [112] In 1958 it closed down and all remaining research was moved to the Department of medical genetics at Uppsala University. [112]

Nazi Germany

The Nazi Party and its sympathizers published many books on scientific racism, seizing on the eugenicist and antisemitic ideas with which they were widely associated, although these ideas had been in circulation since the 19th century. Books such as Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes ("Racial Science of the German People") by Hans Günther [113] (first published in 1922) [114] and Rasse und Seele ("Race and Soul") by Ludwig Ferdinand Clauß [de] [115] (published under different titles between 1926 and 1934) [116] : 394 attempted to scientifically identify differences between the German, Nordic, or Aryan people and other, supposedly inferior, groups. [ citation needed ] German schools used these books as texts during the Nazi era. [117] In the early 1930s, the Nazis used racialized scientific rhetoric based on social Darwinism [ citation needed ] to push its restrictive and discriminatory social policies.

During World War II, Nazi racialist beliefs became anathema in the United States, and Boasians such as Ruth Benedict consolidated their institutional power. After the war, discovery of the Holocaust and Nazi abuses of scientific research (such as Josef Mengele's ethical violations and other war crimes revealed at the Nuremberg Trials) led most of the scientific community to repudiate scientific support for racism.

Propaganda for the Nazi eugenics program began with propaganda for eugenic sterilization. Articles in Neues Volk described the appearance of the mentally ill and the importance of preventing such births. [118] Photographs of mentally incapacitated children were juxtaposed with those of healthy children. [119] : 119 The film Das Erbe showed conflict in nature in order to legitimate the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring by sterilization.

Although the child was "the most important treasure of the people", this did not apply to all children, even German ones, only to those with no hereditary weaknesses. [120] Nazi Germany's racially based social policies placed the improvement of the Aryan race through eugenics at the center of Nazis ideology. Those humans were targeted who were identified as "life unworthy of life" (German: Lebensunwertes Leben), including but not limited to Jewish people, criminals, degenerate, dissident, feeble-minded, homosexual, idle, insane, and the weak, for elimination from the chain of heredity. [ citation needed ] Despite their still being regarded as "Aryan", Nazi ideology deemed Slavs (i.e., Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, etc.) to be inferior to the Germanic master race, suitable for expulsion, enslavement, or even extermination. [121] : 180

Adolf Hitler banned intelligence quotient (IQ) testing for being "Jewish". [122] : 16

United States

In the 20th century, concepts of scientific racism, which sought to prove the physical and mental inadequacy of groups deemed "inferior", was relied upon to justify involuntary sterilization programs. [123] [124] Such programs, promoted by eugenicists such as Harry H. Laughlin, were upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Buck v. Bell (1927). In all, between 60,000 and 90,000 Americans were subjected to involuntary sterilization. [123]

Scientific racism was also used as a justification for the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 and the Immigration Act of 1924 (Johnson–Reed Act), which imposed racial quotas limiting Italian American immigration to the United States and immigration from other southern European and eastern European nations. Proponents of these quotas, who sought to block "undesirable" immigrants, justifying restrictions by invoking scientific racism. [125]

Lothrop Stoddard published many racialist books on what he saw as the peril of immigration, his most famous being The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy in 1920. In this book he presented a view of the world situation pertaining to race focusing concern on the coming population explosion among the "colored" peoples of the world and the way in which "white world-supremacy" was being lessened in the wake of World War I and the collapse of colonialism.

Stoddard's analysis divided world politics and situations into "white", "yellow", "black", "Amerindian", and "brown" peoples and their interactions. Stoddard argued race and heredity were the guiding factors of history and civilization, and that the elimination or absorption of the "white" race by "colored" races would result in the destruction of Western civilization. Like Madison Grant, Stoddard divided the white race into three main divisions: Nordic, Alpine, and Mediterranean. He considered all three to be of good stock, and far above the quality of the colored races, but argued that the Nordic was the greatest of the three and needed to be preserved by way of eugenics. Unlike Grant, Stoddard was less concerned with which varieties of European people were superior to others (Nordic theory), but was more concerned with what he called "bi-racialism", seeing the world as being composed of simply "colored" and "white" races. In the years after the Great Migration and World War I, Grant's racial theory would fall out of favor in the U.S. in favor of a model closer to Stoddard's. [ citation needed ]

An influential publication was The Races of Europe (1939) by Carleton S. Coon, president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists from 1930 to 1961. Coon was a proponent of multiregional origin of modern humans. He divided Homo sapiens into five main races: Caucasoid, Mongoloid (including Native Americans), Australoid, Congoid, and Capoid.

Coon's school of thought was the object of increasing opposition in mainstream anthropology after World War II. Ashley Montagu was particularly vocal in denouncing Coon, especially in his Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race. By the 1960s, Coon's approach had been rendered obsolete in mainstream anthropology, but his system continued to appear in publications by his student John Lawrence Angel as late as in the 1970s.

In the late 19th century, the Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) United States Supreme Court decision—which upheld the constitutional legality of racial segregation under the doctrine of "separate but equal"—was intellectually rooted in the racism of the era, as was the popular support for the decision. [126] Later in the mid 20th century, the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) decision rejected racialist arguments about the "need" for racial segregation—especially in public schools.

By 1954, 58 years after the Plessy v. Ferguson upholding of racial segregation in the United States, American popular and scholarly opinions of scientific racism and its sociologic practice had evolved. [126] In 1960, the journal Mankind Quarterly started, which some have described as a venue for scientific racism. It has been criticized for a claimed ideological bias, and for lacking a legitimate scholarly purpose. [127] The journal was founded in 1960, partly in response to the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education which desegregated the American public school system. [128] [127]

In April 1966, Alex Haley interviewed American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell for Playboy. Rockwell justified his belief that blacks were inferior to whites by citing a long 1916 study by G. O. Ferguson which claimed to show that the intellectual performance of black students was correlated with their percentage of white ancestry, stating "pure negroes, negroes three-fourths pure, mulattoes and quadroons have, roughly, 60, 70, 80 and 90 percent, respectively, of white intellectual efficiency". [129] Playboy later published the interview with an editorial note claiming the study was a "discredited . pseudoscientific rationale for racism". [130]

International bodies such as UNESCO attempted to draft resolutions that would summarize the state of scientific knowledge about race and issued calls for the resolution of racial conflicts. In its 1950 "The Race Question", UNESCO did not reject the idea of a biological basis to racial categories, [131] but instead defined a race as: "A race, from the biological standpoint, may therefore be defined as one of the group of populations constituting the species Homo sapiens", which were broadly defined as the Caucasian, Mongoloid, Negroid races but stated that "It is now generally recognized that intelligence tests do not in themselves enable us to differentiate safely between what is due to innate capacity and what is the result of environmental influences, training and education." [132]

Despite scientific racism being largely dismissed by the scientific community after World War II, some researchers have continued to propose theories of racial superiority in the past few decades. [133] [134] These authors themselves, while seeing their work as scientific, may dispute the term racism and may prefer terms such as "race realism" or "racialism". [135] In 2018, British science journalist and author Angela Saini expressed strong concern about the return of these ideas into the mainstream. [136] Saini followed up on this idea with her 2019 book Superior: The Return of Race Science. [137]

One such post-World War II scientific racism researcher is Arthur Jensen. His most prominent work is The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability in which he supports the theory that black people are inherently less intelligent than whites. Jensen argues for differentiation in education based on race, stating that educators must "take full account of all the facts of [students'] nature." [138] Responses to Jensen criticized his lack of emphasis on environmental factors. [139] Psychologist Sandra Scarr describes Jensen's work as "conjur[ing] up images of blacks doomed to failure by their own inadequacies". [140]

J. Philippe Rushton, president of the Pioneer Fund (Race, Evolution, and Behavior) and a defender of Jensen's The g Factor, [141] also has multiple publications perpetuating scientific racism. Rushton argues "race differences in brain size likely underlie their multifarious life history outcomes." [142] Rushton's theories are defended by other scientific racists such as Glayde Whitney. Whitney published works suggesting higher crime rates among people of African descent can be partially attributed to genetics. [143] Whitney draws this conclusion from data showing higher crime rates among people of African descent across different regions. Other researchers point out that proponents of a genetic crime-race link are ignoring confounding social and economic variables, drawing conclusions from correlations. [144]

Christopher Brand was a proponent of Arthur Jensen's work on racial intelligence differences. [145] Brand's The g Factor: General Intelligence and Its Implications claims black people are intellectually inferior to whites. [146] He argues the best way to combat IQ disparities is to encourage low-IQ women to reproduce with high-IQ men. [146] He faced intense public backlash, with his work being described as a promotion of eugenics. [147] Brand's book was withdrawn by the publisher and he was dismissed from his position at the University of Edinburgh.

Psychologist Richard Lynn has published multiple papers and a book supporting theories of scientific racism. In IQ and the Wealth of Nations, Lynn claims that national GDP is determined largely by national average IQ. [148] He draws this conclusion from the correlation between average IQ and GDP and argues low intelligence in African nations is the cause of their low levels of growth. Lynn's theory has been criticized for attributing causal relationship between correlated statistics. [149] [150] Lynn supports scientific racism more directly in his 2002 paper "Skin Color and Intelligence in African Americans", where he proposes "the level of intelligence in African Americans is significantly determined by the proportion of Caucasian genes." [151] As with IQ and the Wealth of Nations, Lynn's methodology is flawed, and he purports a causal relationship from what is simply correlation. [152]

Other prominent modern proponents of scientific racism include Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein (The Bell Curve) and Nicholas Wade (A Troublesome Inheritance). Wade's book faced strong backlash from the scientific community, with 142 geneticists and biologists signing a letter describing Wade's work as "misappropriation of research from our field to support arguments about differences among human societies." [153]

On 17 June 2020, Elsevier announced it was retracting an article that J. Philippe Rushton and Donald Templer had published in 2012 in the Elsevier journal Personality and Individual Differences. [154] The article falsely claimed that there was scientific evidence that skin color was related to aggression and sexuality in humans. [155]

Ernest Shackleton

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Ernest Shackleton, in full Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, (born February 15, 1874, Kilkea, County Kildare, Ireland—died January 5, 1922, Grytviken, South Georgia), Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer who attempted to reach the South Pole.

Educated at Dulwich College (1887–90), Shackleton entered the mercantile marine service in 1890 and became a sublieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve in 1901. He joined Capt. Robert Falcon Scott’s British National Antarctic (Discovery) Expedition (1901–04) as third lieutenant and took part, with Scott and Edward Wilson, in the sledge journey over the Ross Ice Shelf when latitude 82°16′33″ S was reached. His health suffered, and he was removed from duty and sent home on the supply ship Morning in March 1903.

Who was Ernest Shackleton?

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was an Anglo-Irish explorer of Antarctica who attempted to reach the South Pole.

Where did Ernest Shackleton attend school?

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton attended Dulwich College from 1887 until 1890.

What is Ernest Shackleton best known for?

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton is best known as a polar explorer who was associated with four expeditions exploring Antarctica, particularly the Trans-Antarctic (Endurance) Expedition (1914–16) that he led, which, although unsuccessful, became famous as a tale of remarkable perseverance and survival.

Where was Ernest Shackleton buried?

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was buried on the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic Ocean.

In January 1908 he returned to Antarctica as leader of the British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition (1907–09). The expedition, prevented by ice from reaching the intended base site in Edward VII Peninsula, wintered on Ross Island, McMurdo Sound. A sledging party, led by Shackleton, reached within 97 nautical miles (112 statute miles or 180 km) of the South Pole, and another, under T.W. Edgeworth David, reached the area of the south magnetic pole. Victoria Land plateau was claimed for the British crown, and the expedition was responsible for the first ascent of Mount Erebus. The sledging party returned to the base camp in late February 1909, but they discovered that the Nimrod had set sail some two days earlier. Shackleton and his party set fire to the camp to signal the ship, which received the signal and returned to the camp a few days later, successfully retrieving them. On his return to England, Shackleton was knighted and was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

In August 1914 the British Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914–16) left England under Shackleton’s leadership. He planned to cross Antarctica from a base on the Weddell Sea to McMurdo Sound, via the South Pole, but the expedition ship Endurance was trapped in ice off the Caird coast and drifted for 10 months before being crushed in the pack ice. The members of the expedition then drifted on ice floes for another five months and finally escaped in boats to Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands, where they subsisted on seal meat, penguins, and their dogs. Shackleton and five others sailed 800 miles (1,300 km) to South Georgia in a whale boat, a 16-day journey across a stretch of dangerous ocean, before landing on the southern side of South Georgia. Shackleton and his small crew then made the first crossing of the island to seek aid. Four months later, after leading four separate relief expeditions, Shackleton succeeded in rescuing his crew from Elephant Island. Throughout the ordeal, not one of Shackleton’s crew of the Endurance died. A supporting party, the Ross Sea party led by A.E. Mackintosh, sailed in the Aurora and laid depots as far as latitude 83°30′ S for the use of the Trans-Antarctic party three of this party died on the return journey.

Shackleton served in the British army during World War I. He attempted a fourth Antarctic expedition, called the Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic Expedition, aboard the Quest in 1921, which had the goal of circumnavigating the continent. Shackleton died at Grytviken, South Georgia, however, at the outset of the journey. His exertions in raising funds to finance his expeditions and the immense strain of the expeditions themselves were believed to have worn out his strength.

Shackleton’s publications were The Heart of the Antarctic (1909) and South (1919), the latter an account of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by John P. Rafferty, Editor.

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