Lost… The Antarctic Diary of Thomas Orde Lees: Thomson, John
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Lost… The Antarctic Diary of Thomas Orde Lees

Author(s): Thomson, John

Copyright: 2020, UK
Specifications: Ltd ed 275, thick 8vo, pp.x, 498, 18 color & 68 bw photos, 3 sketches, plan, 3 maps, orange cloth
Condition: dj & cloth new

First Publication of Orde Lees’ Endurance Diary

The story of Shackleton and his Endurance adventure is very well known in the canon of Antarctic literature. His attempt to cross the Antarctic continent failed spectacularly. When the ship was crushed, he and his crew made their way to the desolation of Elephant Island. From there, Shackleton, Frank Worsley, Tom Crean, Harry McNeish, John Vincent, and Timothy McCarthy made that epic voyage to South Georgia in the James Caird to ultimately arrange the rescue of the crew.

Orde Lees was selected originally as the motor expert but when this became redundant Lees became the storeman, and thus was responsible for maintaining and distributing supplies on the Endurance and on Elephant Island and naturally in this capacity he was destined to become an easy target for the bored and hungry. He was also the only member who maintained a personal daily diary of the voyage, from Day 1 to the day the rescued men left South America for England more than two years later.

Lees was often a `man alone' on the ship but was always capable of appreciating and describing in touching and sensitive language a beautiful polar dawn or nature at its most inspiring.

Margaret Scott, in her capacity as manuscript librarian at the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, has said the diary `has a rare dramatic quality and an eye and ear for the unusual and interesting. Perhaps because it is also ingenuous and different from the official accounts it has its own intrinsic value’.

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