Quest for a Phantom Strait

The Saga of the Pioneer Antarctic Peninsula Expeditions 1897-1905

by David E. Yelverton


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'Don't go looking for Antarctica without this book.' - Susan Solomon




With a Foreword by Sir Ranulph Fiennes
'This is a highly readable account of a little known, but critical, part of our polar history.'



In the shadow of simmering German and Boer resentments, amid the menace of accelerating naval rearmament, the western world's leading geographers met in London in 1895 to debate the most elusive challenge still facing the world of exploration: did a seventh continent exist at the South Pole? Or was there just a polar ocean with a scattering of islands?

This is an account of three expeditions - Belgian, Swedish and French - that sailed south in response to the London conference resolution, as did Scott's Discovery, Drygalski's Gauss and Bruce's Scotia further east. Overshadowed by the later Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen dramas, the history books have forgotten them. David Yelverton puts their stories on the map of history for the first time, revealing a tale of shipwreck, starvation, illness and death, and above all of supreme personal bravery.


'This book will be of immense value to the thousands of travellers who venture across the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. Living history is injected into the dramatic scenery.'
John Killingbeck, ex-British Antarctic Survey, last husky dog driver in the Antarctic with
John Sweeney and lecturer on Antarctic cruise ships

'Yelverton paints the portraits of the early explorers with unmatched accuracy, detail and skill. Don't go looking for Antarctica without this book.'
Susan Solomon, author of The Coldest March and holder of the US National Medal of Science

'… not only a gripping account of the achievements and dramas of three lesser known expeditions that played a crucial part in the discovery of Antarctica, but it is a scholarly and meticulously researched work long overdue in the Antarctic literature.'
David L. Harrowfield, former Antarctic curator of the Canterbury Museum, NZ and
historical adviser to the Antarctic Heritage Trust

David E. Yelverton FRGS, a veteran of World War II, retired in 1979 after a career in engineering planning and logistics management, and has since devoted over twenty years to research into Antarctic expeditions that sailed south as the twentieth century dawned. He is well known for Antarctica Unveiled (University Press of Colorado, 2000), a definitive history of Scott's Discovery Expedition, and has catalogued the two premier collections of its photographs. He has also written articles for specialist journals and resolved some longstanding uncertainties about 'heroic age' awards of the British Polar Medal.


Category: Polar Travel/Polar History
ISBN: 0-9548003-0-3 Paperback
Size: 210 x 148 mm
Illustrations: 80 pages, 6 maps, 19 black & white photographs
Price: 10.99
Available from bookshops or direct from the publisher at



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