The Folio Society has this week published Everest From Reconnaissance to Summit, 1921 to 1953, an account of five key expeditions to Everest using photography and reportage held in the Society’s archives.
Marking the 100th anniversary of the earliest British reconnaissance to Everest in 1921, this is the first time such an account has been assembled, from the story of the first attempt on the summit in 1922, through the tragic 1924 expedition that claimed the lives of Mallory and Irvine, to the triumphant ascent of Hillary and Tenzing in 1953.
It is told through photographs, captions and commentary, selected and written by award-winning mountaineer and author Peter Gillman with the preface by Jan Morris, the last surviving member of the 1953 expedition, and who submitted it prior to her death in 2020.
The first volume, A Photographic History, collects 268 of the most remarkable mountain photographs ever taken, including breathtaking vistas, steep gorges, glaciers, ice-fields, pinnacles and close-ups of the ascents. As well as capturing the sublime beauty of the mountainscapes, they are pioneering works in the history of photography: the 1921 expedition supplied the very first recorded images of the Tibetan people.
The explorers’ testimony makes up the second volume, An Eyewitness History, compiled from articles and dispatches, memoirs, official reports and private letters – first-person accounts from those undertaking these extraordinary adventures.
Both volumes are presented together in a pictorial slipcase and include new digital scans from the fragile silver-nitrate negatives stored in our Collections. Everest is introduced by Wade Davis – an authority on the early expeditions, who places them in their historical context of the ‘Great Game’ played out between the British and Russian empires, and also that of the First World War.
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