James Weddell. A Voyage Towards the South Pole, Performed in the Years 1822–24
The period after Captain Cook’s 1773 voyage saw little in the way of Antarctic exploration, save for the discovery of the South Shetland Islands by William Smith (1790–1847) in 1819. Mainland Antarctica remained undiscovered until the Russian explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen (1778–1852) sighted it from his lead ship the Vostok on 28 January 1820. Bellingshausen’s discovery was followed by numerous expeditions throughout the nineteenth century, culminating in the start of the ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration’ towards the end of the 1800s.
One of the early nineteenth-century explorers was the British navigator and sealer James Weddell (1787–1834). His account in A Voyage Towards the South Pole is that of his third and most successful Antarctic voyage when, after unsuccessfully searching for land between the South Shetlands and South Orkneys, Weddell turned south, and in 1823 reached the southernmost longitudinal position any ship had ever reached before.