George Mallory


George Mallory : biography

18 June 1886 – 9 June 1924

While at Charterhouse, he met his wife, Ruth Turner (6 October 1892 – 6 January 1942), who lived in Godalming, and they were married in 1914, just six days before Britain and Germany went to war. George and Ruth had two daughters and a son: Frances Clare (19 September 1915 – 2001), Beridge Ruth, known as ‘Berry’ (16 September 1917 – 1953), and John (born 21 August 1920). In December 1915, Mallory joined the Royal Garrison Artillery as 2nd lieutenant and in 1916, he participated in the shelling of the Somme, under the command of Major Gwilym Lloyd George, the son of then Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

After the war, Mallory returned to Charterhouse, resigning in 1921 in order to join the first Everest expedition. Between expeditions, he attempted to make a living from writing and lecturing, with only partial success. In 1923, he took a job as lecturer with the Cambridge University Extramural Studies Department. He was given temporary leave so that he could join the 1924 Everest attempt.


Mallory Court at Magdalene College, CambridgeMallory was honoured by having a court named after him at his alma mater, Magdalene College, Cambridge, with an inscribed stone commemorating his death set above the doorway to one of the buildings. Two high peaks in California’s Sierra Nevada, Mount Mallory and Mount Irvine, located a few miles southeast of Mt. Whitney, were named after them.

Mallory was captured on film by expedition cameraman John Noel, who released his film of the 1924 expedition Epic of Everest upon returning. Some of his footage was also used in George Lowe’s 1953 documentary The Conquest of Everest. A documentary on the 2001 Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition, Found on Everest, was produced by Riley Morton. Mallory was played by Brian Blessed in the 1991 re-creation of his last climb, Galahad of Everest.

Tragedy in the mountains has proved a recurring theme in the Mallory line. Mallory’s younger brother, Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, also met his death on a mountain range when the Avro York carrying him to his new appointment as Air Commander-in-Chief of South East Asia Command (SEAC) crashed in the French Alps in 1944, killing all on board. Mallory’s daughter, Frances Clare, married physiologist Glenn Allan Millikan, who was killed in a climbing accident near Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Millikan was the son of Robert Millikan, a Nobel Laureate and one of three founders of the California Institute of Technology.

Not all Mallory-related mountain endeavours have proved fatal. Frances Mallory’s nephew, Rick Millikan, became a respected climber in his own right during the 1960s and ’70s. Mallory’s grandson, also named George Mallory, reached the summit of Everest in 1995 via the North Ridge with six other climbers as part of the American Everest Expedition of 1995. He left a picture of his grandparents at the summit citing "unfinished business".

Jeffrey Archer’s book, Paths of Glory, is based on Mallory’s life.

Kamigami no Itadaki

In Anthony Geffen’s 2010 biographical documentary film about Mallory’s life and final expedition, The Wildest Dream, Conrad Anker and Leo Houlding attempt to reconstruct the ill-fated climb, dressed and equipped similarly to Mallory and Irvine.

Keith Thomas and Glyn Bailey are creating a musical about Mallory’s life called Mountain of Dreams to be launched in New Orleans in 2012-13.

Mallory’s last climb

June 1924 expedition to Everest

Mallory joined the 1924 Everest expedition, led as in 1922 by General Bruce. Mallory believed that at age 37, it would be his third and last opportunity to climb the mountain. When touring the US, Mallory claimed that his next expedition would achieve the summit, to enthusiastic Harvard students . Mallory and Geoffrey Bruce had made the first attempt, which was inexplicably aborted by Mallory at Camp 5 (C-5).

Norton and Somervell set off from C-6, and in perfect weather, Norton managed, without oxygen, to reach , a new record height.