From the Preface to Additions and Corrections Supplement to
ANTARCTICA, 1772-1922; FREESTANDING PUBLICATIONS THROUGH 1999
by Michael H. Rosove. (Santa Monica, California: Adélie Books, 2001)
Used here by kind permission of the author.
The most important [error] concerns leaf 63 of Aurora Australis (entry 304.A1c). I erroneously stated that the illustration on the verso of the “Many Shekels” leaf was replaced by duplicate text, but the entire leaf except the first word is “variant text”. Martin Greene offers the opinion—and he is undoubtedly correct—that the “variant text” leaf was its first state. Martin points out that the variant leaf contains not-so-vague statements that would have offended identifiable solicited individuals who declined to contribute to the expedition’s funds. When the text was revised, it also became shorter, and an illustration was needed to fill the space. The “Many Shekels” illustration accomplishes that and is, in fact, the only illustration in the text, supporting the notion that the “Many Shekels” illustration was a late necessity of circumstance. Both states of leaf 63 are available in modern facsimiles. The 1st facsimile edition (entry 304.B) contains the “Many Shekels” leaf; the 2nd facsimile edition (entry 304.C) contains the “variant text” (first state) leaf.
Two additional very important points of interest concerning Aurora Australis have been brought to attention. Robert Stephenson examined the Pierpont Morgan copy at the Morgan Library & Museum, New York City. Shackleton’s accompanying presentation letter states that 80 copies of the book were produced. This figure, somewhat larger than the number of copies thus far documented in a longstanding and ongoing census, and somewhat less than the 90 to 100 commonly cited, may now be taken as the most closely correct estimate among several offered over the years.
Granville Allen Mawer, author of South by Northwest: The Magnetic Crusade and the Contest for Antarctica (Kent Town, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2006), appears to have solved at least part of the mystery of the heretofore presumed non-existent plate “A Giant Tick Was Investigating the Carcase.” Several copies of Aurora Australis contain the plate title leaf, but both John Millard and Mary P. Goodwin in their respective introductions to the facsimile editions of 1986 and 1988 stated that the plate was not known to exist in any copy, and still no copy containing the plate has come to light. Such a plate would have illustrated Douglas Mawson’s story “Bathybia”. “Bathybia” was reproduced for The Antarctic Book, part of the 3-volume deluxe edition of Shackleton’s The Heart of the Antarctic published in 1909. The Antarctic Book contains a George Marston illustration for “Bathybia” facing p. 44 titled “Giant Toadstools” not present in Aurora Australis. Allen, upon careful examination of Marston’s busy etching, saw something easily overlooked, a giant bug-eyed arthropod with multiple legs closing in on the unconscious explorer just to the right of center. The unconscious man’s startled companions are looking on. The text on p. 38 describes the man as prone; in the illustration he is supine with knees bent, but the term “prone” is often used loosely as any position lying more or less flat. Another slight inconsistency is that the arthropod more resembles a spider than a tick. Even so, “Giant Toadstools” would appear to be a candidate for “A Giant Tick Was Investigating the Carcase.” Possibly Marston had created an earlier “Giant Tick” etching but was not content with it and decided to create another, not in time to include in Aurora Australis but soon enough for The Antarctic Book. Or perhaps he did create this plate in the Antarctic but considered the other two etchings for “Bathybia” in Aurora Australis sufficient illustration, after the plate title leaf was printed and made its way into a few copies.