Harold Shaw and the Ross Sea Party: epilepsy in the Antarctic

J Hist Neurosci. 2009 Jul;18(3):320-8. doi: 10.1080/09647040802032512.


Harold Shaw was a 29-year-old man with epilepsy who was part of the Ross Sea Party. Sailing on the vessel Aurora, their mission was to lay the supply depots for Shackleton's men that would allow them to complete the second half of their trans-Antarctic crossing. Shaw suffered nocturnal seizures that were documented in the diaries of the senior officers. The nocturnal convulsions were followed by confused wanderings, described as somnambulism, around the ship, that were most likely postictal behaviors. This article summarizes Shaw's life and the ordeal of his epilepsy on this Antarctic voyage.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Antarctic Regions
  • Cold Climate*
  • England
  • Epilepsy / history*
  • Famous Persons*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ships / history*
  • Somnambulism / history*
  • Survival*
  • Tasmania

Personal name as subject

  • Harold Shaw
  • Ernest Schackleton