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Shackleton items from the Archives

Articles by Clements Markham

The following article is by Clements Markham:

About the author

Clements Robert Markham was born at Stillingfleet in Yorkshire on 20 July 1830. In 1844, he entered the Navy as a cadet, and in 1850, joined the British naval Franklin search expedition from London, 1850 - 1851, as midshipman on board HMS Assistance under Captain Erasmus Ommanney. The expedition was sent by the Admiralty to search for Sir John Franklin's missing Northwest Passage expedition by way of Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound. In addition to discovering Franklin's winter quarters in 1845-1846 on Beechey Island, the expedition conducted extensive coastal surveys and observations of topography, geology, fauna and meteorology.

It was this experience that turned Markham to exploration and the study of scientific geography. He retired from the Royal Navy in 1852. In 1854, Markham became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and started work at the East India Company, afterwards the India Office. He travelled to Peru to collect the cinchona plant, the source of quinine and cure for malaria, and then went to India to found the local quinine industry.

In 1863, Markham became Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, a post he held for the next twenty-five years. He was President of the Society from 1893 to 1905 and was knighted in 1896.

Markham then turned his interests to the revival of British Antarctic exploration. He had already played a prominent part in the campaign to obtain official approval for the British Arctic Expedition, 1875 - 1876 (leader George Strong Nares), one of the aims of which was to reach the North Pole. He then went on to devote much enthusiasm and energy to the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901 - 1904, selecting Robert Falcon Scott as leader of the expedition.

His interest and enthusiasm for exploration and geography continued right up to his death on 29 January 1916.

Published works: Antarctic obsession. A personal narrative of the origins of the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901 - 1904 by Clements Robert Markham, edited by Clive Holland, Bluntisham Books Harleston (1986) SPRI Library Shelf (*7):91(08)[1901-04 Scott]

The life of Sir Clements R. Markham, K.C.B., F.R.S. by Sir Albert Hastings Markham, John Murray London (1917) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Markham, C.R.]

Rebecca Stancombe.