The Nine-Pointed Star by Hon. Alexandra Shackleton

The Shackleton Company’s new emblem will already be familiar to the many people around the world who are interested in the life and achievements of my Grandfather, Sir Ernest Shackleton.

On the evening before his death on board Quest in frozen South Georgia, Shackleton wrote in his diary ‘In the darkening twilight I saw a lone star hover, gem-like above the bay.’


The next morning, 5th January 1922, he died of a heart attack, aged 48.


Following his death, and according to the instructions of his wife Emily, his devoted crew laid him to rest in the whalers’ cemetery at Griytviken, initially raising a cairn and cross to mark his grave. These were later replaced with a south-facing granite headstone.

The stone bears a nine-pointed star - a personal motif that Sir Ernest used throughout his life as a guide and inspiration.



On the reverse of the stone is perhaps the clearest summation of how Sir Ernest thought about life. A passionate and romantic man who loved poetry, Shackleton was a prolific writer of verse himself. His most cherished words were those of Robert Browning:


‘I hold that a man should strive to the uttermost for his life’s set prize.’



This is the message carved on the headstone in that wild and lonely place that I have visited so many times. The words offer us clear direction: we must all seek and find our own prize; we must follow our own star.


For my Grandfather this was Antarctic exploration; for the rest of us, these words are an inspiration to strive and strive again for whatever is our own personal Antarctic.


Alexandra Shackleton

September 2016

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