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George E. Marston (1882-1940) - Biographical notes

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George Edward Marston

The Endurance Expedition

Marston took part in three sledging journeys on the Nimrod expedition, including an ascent of Mount Erebus. He was a graduate of the Regent Street Polytechnic art school in London and joined the Nimrod expedition after being persuaded by Shackleton's two sisters with whom he was friends. He contributed several lithographs to the  "Aurora Australis", a limited edition publication produced during 1908 whilst the men were laid up for the winter at Hut Point, and several paintings to "The Heart of the Antarctic" Shackleton's book of the expedition.

Marston was rather a moody individual, being up or down on an almost daily basis, he also had a tendency to be pessimistic and was somewhat disliked by Shackleton as a result of this.

He made sketches of life on the pack-ice and also Elephant Island, once again contributing to Shackleton's official account of the expedition. Marston made a not inconsiderable sacrifice on Elephant Island in giving up his oil paints to be used to help caulk the James Caird for the journey to South Georgia.



George Marston was born in Southsea, Portsmouth on the 19th of March 1882, the son of a coach builder. Prior to going to Antarctica, he worked as a School Board Art Teacher. He had married to Hazel Roberts in 1913, in October of the same year, a daughter, Heather was born.

Shackleton was keen to recruit Marston as artist on the Endurance and was one of the first people he signed up, being promised a salary of £350 per year. As well as being artist, Marston was assigned as a dog-team leader and driver.

On return from the expedition Marston taught at Bedales school in Petersfield from 1918 to 1922. In 1925, he joined the Rural Industries Bureau (RIB) as Handicrafts Adviser, having always been a lover rural life and countryside matters, he was appointed Assistant Director in 1931 and Director in 1934.

The job for the R.I.B. involved travelling around England, Wales and Scotland, the administrative centres being London and Taunton, Somerset. George split with Hazel and they lead separate lives though they never divorcing.

Marston died on the 22nd of November 1940 in Taunton of a coronary thrombosis at the age of 58, he is buried in the village churchyard at East Lyng, near Taunton, a sailing ship adorns his headstone.


References to George Marsto in Shackleton's book "South!" buy USA   buy UK

  • The new quarters became known as "The Ritz," and meals were served there instead of in the ward room. Breakfast was at 9 a.m., lunch at 1 p.m., tea at 4 p.m., and dinner at 6 p.m. Wild, Marston, Crean, and Worsley established themselves in cubicles in the wardroom, and by the middle of the month all hands had settled down to the winter routine.
  • The few pieces of wood that we had were laid across from keel to keel, and over this the material of one of the torn tents was spread and secured with guys to the rocks. The walls were ingeniously contrived and fixed up by Marston. First he cut the now useless tents into suitable lengths; then he cut the legs of a pair of seaboots into narrow strips, and using these in much the same way that the leather binding is put round the edge of upholstered chairs, he nailed the tent-cloth all round the insides of the outer gunwales of the two boats in such a way that it hung down like a valance to the ground, where it was secured with spars and oars.
  • "Our reading material consisted at this time of two books of poetry, one book of ‘Nordenskjold's Expedition,' one or two torn volumes of the ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica,' and a penny cookery book, owned by Marston. Our clothes, though never presentable, as they bore the scars of nearly ten months of rough usage, had to be continually patched to keep them together at all."
  • A huge glacier across the bay behind the hut nearly put an end to the party. Enormous blocks of ice weighing many tons would break off and fall into the sea, the disturbance thus caused giving rise to great waves. One day Marston was outside the hut digging up the frozen seal for lunch with a pick, when a noise "like an artillery barrage" startled him. Looking up he saw that one of these tremendous waves, over thirty feet high, was advancing rapidly across the bay, threatening to sweep hut and inhabitants into the sea. A hastily shouted warning brought the men tumbling out, but fortunately the loose ice which filled the bay damped the wave down so much that, though it flowed right under the hut, nothing was carried away. It was a narrow escape, though, as had they been washed into the sea nothing could have saved them.
  • "The centre of the hut is filled with the cases which do duty for the cook's bed, the meat and blubber boxes, and a mummified-looking object, which is Lees in his sleeping-bag. The near end of the floor space is taken up with the stove, with Wild and McIlroy on one side, and Hurley and James on the other. Marston occupies a hammock most of the night—and day—which is slung across the entrance. As he is large and the entrance very small, he invariably gets bumped by those passing in and out. His vocabulary at such times is interesting.
  • Marston had with him a small penny cookery book. From this he would read out one recipe each night, so as to make them last. This would be discussed very seriously, and alterations and improvements suggested, and then they would turn into their bags to dream of wonderful meals that they could never reach.
  • We were just assembling for lunch to the call of ‘Lunch O!' and I was serving out the soup, which was particularly good that day, consisting of boiled seal's backbone, limpets, and seaweed, when there was another hail from Marston of ‘Ship O!' Some of the men thought it was ‘Lunch O!' over again, but when there was another yell from Marston lunch had no further attractions.


Landmarks named after George Marston

Feature Name: Mount Marston
Feature Type: summit
Elevation: 1245
Latitude: 7654S
Longitude: 16212E
Description: A whaleback-shaped mountain, 1,245 m, standing at the N side of Kar Plateau,
3 mi N of the terminus of Mackay Glacier in Victoria Land. First mapped by the BrAE (1907-09).
Variant Name(s) - Whaleback




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

Recommended Books DVD's and VHS

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

South with Endurance:
Frank Hurley - official photographer
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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
   Buy UK
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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
Buy from Amazon USA USA  |  Buy from Amazon UK UK
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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