Monday, March 06, 2017

George Mallory Climbing Buff


George Mallory, known to the world as part of the story of Everest and the man who coined the phrase "because it's there", has featured on Front Free Endpaper before, courtesy of his links with the Bloomsbury group and his eagerness to get his kit off at the slightest provocation. Duncan Grant took some haunting black and white photos of him naked, and painted him too. In 1999, seventy-five years after Mallory disappeared in an ill-fated attempt on Everest, his body was found in an amazing state of preservation still on the mountain. There were plenty of photos of the body published in the newspapers of the time and they are all available online if that's your thing, but I recently came across a book on Everest and tucked at the back were some pages of a newspaper from 1999 and a number of articles on Mallory and his fate including the two photos here. Whilst involved with the Bloomsbury Group, Mallory was an Adonis in his mid-twenties and the photo above from just after that period as an officer in WW1, with his wife, shows quite clearly how attractive a young man he was. But twenty years later, on Everest, it appears he was still just as keen to get his kit off. The photo below is from the same paper (imaginatively captioned, "Climbing Buff" of course), and shows a naked Mallory with a slightly sheepish-looking Howard Somervell and Arthur Wakefield. There is something quite compelling about the way this extraordinary man was so comfortable in his own body and that doesn't seemed to have changed throughout his life.


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