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James Francis (Frank) Hurley (1885-1962) - Biographical notes

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South with Endurance: Frank Hurley - official photographer
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Frank Hurley: A Photographer's Life
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Antarctic Eyewitness
: South With Mawson and Shackleton's Argonauts
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Bakewell, William
Able Seaman

Blackborow, Percy
Steward (stowaway)

Cheetham, Alfred
Third Officer

Clark, Robert S.

Crean, Thomas
Second Officer

Green, Charles J.

Greenstreet, Lionel
First Officer

Holness, Ernest

How, Walter E.
Able Seaman

Hudson, Hubert T.

Hurley, James F. (Frank)
Official Photographer

Hussey, Leonard D. A.

James, Reginald W.

Kerr, A. J.
Second Engineer

Macklin, Dr. Alexander H.

Marston, George E.
Official Artist

McCarthy, Timothy
Able Seaman

McIlroy, Dr. James A.

McLeod, Thomas
Able Seaman

McNish, Henry

Orde-Lees, Thomas
Motor Expert and Storekeeper

Rickinson, Lewis
First Engineer

Shackleton, Ernest H.
Expedition Leader

Stephenson, William

Vincent, John
Able Seaman

Wild, Frank
Second in Command

Wordie, James M.

Worsley, Frank

Frank Hurley sometime netween 1929  and 1931

Frank Hurley

Photographer Australasian Antarctic Expedition - 1911-13

Photographer Endurance - 1914-17

The Endurance Expedition

Single, was of Sydney, New South Wales. He had been the recipient of many amateur and professional awards for photographic work before joining the Expedition. At the Main Base he obtained excellent photographic and cinematographic records and was one of the three members of the Southern Sledging Party. He was also present on the final cruise of the `Aurora'.
From Appendix 1, Mawson - Heart of the Antarctic

The only member of Shackleton's expedition that Shackleton didn't meet or interview before the expedition set off, Hurley was accepted on the the strength of his work with Mawson on the 1911-13 Australasian Antarctic Expedition.

Hurley joined Shackleton's Endurance expedition at six weeks notice meeting the ship in Buenos Aires after travelling from Australia. He had been warned by Mawson to make an arrangement with Shackleton whereby he was paid a percentage of the "profits" of the expedition. It was also in Shackleton's financial interests to make sure that a full pictorial record of the expedition made it back home.

Hurley was tall and tough, his first impressions of the crew of the Endurance were not favourable thinking that their physiques were small and not up to standard of the men on Mawson's Australian Antarctic Expedition.

Nonetheless, he was as Greenstreet put it "a warrior with his camera & would go anywhere or do anything to get a picture". At that time a camera was a large wooden boxed structure weighing many pounds and requiring more wooden boxes of glass plates that were used to take the negatives. Even taking the simplest photograph was a significant undertaking and Hurley regularly hauled his equipment, 40 lbs of it and more to difficult places, to the top of the Endurance's masts or up peaks in South Georgia for instance.

He was also a skilled tinsmith and made a water pump for the lifeboats and also a portable stove taken around from camp to camp from materials salvaged from the Endurance, both difficult jobs due to the lack of correct and sharp tools for the jobs.

Even though many photographic plates taken on the Endurance expedition were destroyed before taking to the lifeboats, many survived along with a good deal of cine film which provide the pictorial record of the story. Hurley rescued many of the plates after the Endurance had been lost, but still not fully submerged by returning to the wreck and bare-chested to the waist dived into 3 feet of mushy ice and sea-water to retrieve cases of glass negative plates that were protected by being zinc lined and soldered shut.

Hurley sat with Shackleton on the ice at Shackleton's insistence and they decided between them which plates to keep and which to leave to conserve weight. Those to be left were broken so second thoughts were not an option. 150 of the best plates were saved and the remainder, about 400 were destroyed.

Hurley was nicknamed "the Prince" on the expedition for his susceptibility to flattery, a trait which Shackleton had reason to use as a means to keeping Hurley onside during the most difficult times and to temper Hurley's sometimes overly forthright and uninhibited manner.

He continued to be critical about his fellow crew members on arrival at Elephant Island, recording in his diary that

"... many conducted themselves in a manner unworthy of Gentleman and British sailors. Some of whom it was anticipated would be the bulwarks of the party "stove in". In the majority of cases those suffering from severe frostbites could be traced to negligence..."

"Amongst those that stand meritorious, Sir E. has mentioned: Wild - a tower of strength who appeared as well as ever after 32 hours at the tiller in frozen clothes, Crean who ... piloted the Wills, McNiesh (Carpenter) Vincent (AB) McCarthy (AB) Marston (Dudley Docker) & self"

Note that he included himself without comment. He went on to say that:

"A fair proportion of the remainder. I am convinced would starve or freeze if left to their own resources on this island"

Hurley had total admiration for Shackleton's leadership under these circumstances with what he saw was less than ideal material.

After the rescue and return home of the expedition members, Hurley returned to South Georgia, to shoot more footage for his film of the expedition. He attempted to follow in the footsteps of Shackleton, Crean and Worsley across the island, but despite it being summer and having proper equipment, he found it impossible to do so.

It is largely due to Hurley's pictures that we are able to get such a good impression of the events and that the Endurance story is still very alive and capturing people's imaginations even today.

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Hurley left school and home at the age of 13, without any qualifications and worked in a steel mill and the Sydney dockyards. Eventually he studied at the University of Sydney and taught himself photography.

After the Endurance expedition, Hurley served as an army photographer in the First World War.

Later he became the official photographer to a number of expeditions to tropical regions, returning to the Antarctic again in 1929-31 on the BANZARE voyage (British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition).

He was a war photographer again in World War Two.

Frank Hurley died aged 76 on the 17th of January 1962 in Sydney.

Frank Hurley photograph collection at the National Library of Australia
Frank Hurley papers collection at the National Library of Australia

References to Frank Hurley in Shackleton's book "South!" buy USA   buy UK

  • Seals were plentiful. We saw large numbers on the pack and several on low parts of the barrier, where the slope was easy. The ship passed through large schools of seals swimming from the barrier to the pack off shore. The animals were splashing and blowing around the Endurance, and Hurley made a record of this unusual sight with the kinematograph-camera.

  • On the following day Wild, Hurley, Macklin, and McIlroy took their teams to the Stained Berg, about seven miles west of the ship, and on their way back got a female crab-eater, which they killed, skinned, and left to be picked up later. They ascended to the top of the berg, which lay in about lat. 69° 30 S., long. 51° W., and from an elevation of 110 ft. could see no land. Samples of the discoloured ice from the berg proved to contain dust with black gritty particles or sand-grains.

  • If the ship had heeled any farther it would have been necessary to release the lee boats and pull them clear, and Worsley was watching to give the alarm. Hurley meanwhile descended to the floe and took some photographs of the ship in her unusual position.

  • Morning came in chill and cheerless. All hands were stiff and weary after their first disturbed night on the floe. Just at daybreak I went over to the Endurance with Wild and Hurley, in order to retrieve some tins of petrol that could be used to boil up milk for the rest of the men.

  • On December 20, after discussing the question with Wild, I informed all hands that I intended to try and make a march to the west to reduce the distance between us and Paulet Island. A buzz of pleasurable anticipation went round the camp, and every one was anxious to get on the move. So the next day I set off with Wild, Crean, and Hurley, with dog teams, to the westward to survey the route.

  • Hurley meanwhile had rigged his kinematograph-camera and was getting pictures of the Endurance in her death-throes. While he was engaged thus, the ice, driving against the standing rigging and the fore-, main- and mizzen-masts, snapped the shrouds. The foretop and topgallant-mast came down with a run and hung in wreckage on the fore-mast, with the fore-yard vertical. The main-mast followed immediately, snapping off about 10 ft. above the main deck. The crow's-nest fell within 10 ft. of where Hurley stood turning the handle of his camera, but he did not stop the machine, and so secured a unique, though sad, picture.

  • A path over the shattered floes would be hard to find, and to get the boats into a position of peril might be disastrous. Rickenson and Worsley started back for Dump Camp at 7 a.m. to get some wood and blubber for the fire, and an hour later we had hoosh, with one biscuit each. At 10 a.m. Hurley and Hudson left for the old camp in order to bring some additional dog-pemmican, since there were no seals to be found near us.

    Landmarks named after James Hurley

    Feature Name: Cape Hurley
    Feature Type: cape
    Latitude: 6736S
    Longitude: 14518E
    Description: An ice-covered coastal point marking on the east the mouth of the
    depression occupied by the Mertz Glacier. Discovered by the AAE (1911-14) under Douglas Mawson.

    Feature Name: Mount Hurley
    Feature Type: summit
    Latitude: 6617S
    Longitude: 05121E
    Description: Snow-covered massif with steep bare slopes on the W side, standing 7 mi S of Cape Ann
    and 3 mi S of Mount Biscoe. Discovered in January 1930 by the BANZARE, 1929-31, under Mawson.

    Aurora Personnel Summary

    Recommended Books DVD's and VHS

    Endurance, The Greatest Adventure Story Ever Told, book
    Endurance : Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
    Alfred Lansing (Preface)
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    Free world delivery

    South with Endurance:
    Frank Hurley - official photographer
    Buy USA   Buy UK
    Free world delivery

    South: The Story of Shackleton's Last Expedition, 1914-17
    South! Ernest Shackleton
    Shackleton's own words
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    Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer
    Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer
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    Shackleton's Boat Journey: The narrative of Frank Worsley
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    biography by Roland
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    The Quest for Frank Wild
    biography by Angie Butler
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    The Endurance : Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
    by Caroline Alexander
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    Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition:
    The Remarkable Journal of Shackleton's Polar-Bound Cat
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    Shackleton's Forgotten Men
    Lennard Bickel
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    Tom Crean an Illustrated Life: Unsung Hero of the Scott & Shackleton Expeditions
    Tom Crean: Unsung Hero
    biography by Michael Smith

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    Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, The True Story of the Endurance Expedition
    Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World -
    Jennifer Armstrong
    for ages 12 and up
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    Free world delivery
    Movies / Documentaries
    South - Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition
    South - Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition (1919)
    original footage
    Buy from Amazon USA DVD  Buy from Amazon UK DVD
    Shackleton - The Greatest Survival Story of All Time (3-Disc Collector's Edition)
    Kenneth Branagh (2002)
    Buy from Amazon USA DVD  Buy from Amazon UK DVD
    Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (Large Format)
    Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (2001)
    IMAX dramatization
    Buy from Amazon USA DVD  Buy from Amazon UK DVD
    The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
    The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Expedition (2000)
    PBS NOVA, dramatization with original footage
    Buy from Amazon USA DVD  Buy from Amazon UK DVD

Shackleton's 1914-17 Trans-Antarctica Expedition on Twitter - follow us now to get the story 100 years to the day later.  @danthewhaler

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Lonely Planet travel guide Antarctica
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Free world delivery

Frozen Planet
Buy from Amazon USA DVD  |  Buy from Amazon UK DVD

Buy from Amazon USA DVD  |  Buy from Amazon UK DVD

The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Expedition
Dramatization with original footage

Buy from Amazon USA DVD  |  Buy from Amazon UK DVD

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