'Probably the greatest mountaineer of his day,' claimed Kenneth Mason in his definitive mountaineering history, Abode of Snow. Haversham Godwin-Austen (1834-1923), from an ancient and interesting Surrey aristocratic family with royal connections, not only found the first way to the 'savage mountain', K2, but went on to be the first serious explorer of the Karakoram, Ladakh, Western Tibet, Bhutan, Northern Burma and Assam. He broke the Asiatic high-altitude mountaineering record three times, using a 'garden hatchet' as an ice-axe, saw his assistant killed by headhunters and socialised with everyone from his 'coolies' to the Maharajah of Kashmir.
Back in England, he became one of the UK's greatest Natural Historians, a Darwinist collector among collectors of geological and ornithological specimens. His collection of freshwater molluscs forms the basis of all modern science in the subject. And he became one of the UK's greatest surveyors, covering over 22,000 square miles of new territory, including 23 new glaciers and at least two dozen first ascents of peaks over 5000m. Remarkably, he also found time to paint a vast portfolio of watercolours, including the first close sighting of K2, described by the British Library as a 'national treasure'. (Several of these watercolours are illustrated in The K2 Man (and His Molluscs).) His personal life was equally interesting: three marriages – to an Afghan landowner's daughter, an English socialite, then a civil servant's daughter 23 years younger than himself – was complicated by religious conversions from Anglicanism to Islam then to Buddhism. His strong character as a scholar at great London institutions such as the Natural History Museum is still the stuff of legend, while his bankruptcy in later life required the selling of the 'family pile', the magnificent, royally-furnished Shalford Park. And thanks to a youthful indiscretion in Kashmir, he harboured a dark secret which came back to haunt him near the end of his long and colourful life.
This is the first and authorised biography of an outstanding man. Godwin-Austen's private papers are being made public for the first time. They prove that he was one of the UK's greatest explorers, on a par with Sir Richard Burton, and surpassing the explorations of David Livingstone, Captain Cook or Captain Scott. For mountaineers, scientists, students of biography and historians of the Raj and the Great Game, this biography offers new and and original material – a 'must' for the explorer's bookshelf.
Foreword by Jim Perrin
Part One: Austens, Godwins & Godwin-Austens
Chapter One: The Surrey Austens Origins The Modern Family Politics and Religion The Rise of the Estate Shalford House and Park
Chapter Two: Collectors, Cartographers, Scholars and Soldiers Collectors Cartographers Scholars and Academics Soldiers General Godwin Haversham the soldier Haversham's military brothers
Chapter Three: Grandparents, Parents and Record-breaking Siblings Haversham's grandfather, Sir Henry Edmund and Grandmother, Anne Amelia Bate Geology and Palaeontology Haversham's father, Robert Alfred Cloyne, and his mother, Maria Elizabeth Godwin Haversham's siblings: a record-breaking family
Part Two: Apprentice Squire and Soldier
Chapter Four: Officer Cadet Early years and education Sandhurst
Chapter Five: A Passage to Asia The Edge of Adulthood Leaving England From the Cape to Calcutta
Chapter Six: The Anglo-Burmese War To Burma The background to the second Anglo-Burmese War Growing up in Burma
Chapter Seven: To the North-West Frontier India: The death of General Godwin To the Punjab Haversham's artistic development Life on the North-west Frontier
Part Three: Mountaineer-Explorer
Chapter Eight: An Outstanding Talent on the GTS The Kashmir Survey Haversham the Surveyor Kashmir and Beyond
Chapter Nine: Kudikji Kudikji Edward 'Knocked insensible'
Chapter Ten: The First Karakoram Expedition Haversham the Mountaineer-Explorer The early exploration of the Karakoram Haversham's Expeditions: the overview The first Karakoram expedition: 5 august to early September, 1860
Chapter Eleven: K2 (Mount Godwin-Austen) The second Karakoram or 'K2' expedition, c7 July to 28 September , 1861 To the Mustagh Pass K2 and the Baltoro The third phase: to the Nushik La The final phase: back to Srinagar
Chapter Twelve: 'Probably the greatest mountaineer of his day - ' Rupshu, Ladakh and Zanskar, early July, early September, 1862 Lake Pangong and the Changchenmo Basin, 14 July; September 1863
Chapter Thirteen: The Bhutan Expeditions The first Bhutan Expedition, 1 January; April 1864 Second Bhutan Expedition: the Duars; 1 October 1864; April 1865 Transitions
Chapter Fourteen: Pauline The Chichele Plowdens Marriage to Pauline
Chapter Fifteen: Among the Headhunters (I) The Naga headhunters Ethnic character The historical and political background The Raja of Manipur and the Nagas' resistance Haversham's 'seasons' in Burma and Assam Mountain and Jungle Topography and Ecology
Chapter Sixteen: Among the Headhunters (II) Mountaineering and Surveying Food and Diet Medical matters Other hazards The Cachar earthquake Extreme weather Art, Huntin', Shootin', Fishin', Science Leaving the Service
Part Four: Scientist, Artist, Landowner
Chapter Seventeen: Jessie and Her Squire Haversham's third wife, Jessie Robinson The everyday life of a Surrey squire
Chapter Eighteen: Money (I): The Bankruptcy The sisters The historical causes of the bankruptcy The attempts to prevent bankruptcy The sale of the bird-skins The bankruptcy The demise of Shalford Park
Chapter Nineteen: Money (II): the Aftermath Nore Science for sale The First World War and after 'Bad' Arthur and the estate
Chapter Twenty: Medals and Honours The RGS Founder's Gold Medal The naming of K2 Geographical public bodies
Chapter Twenty-One: Scientist Godwin-Austen and the Fauna of British India Series, By John Matthew, Ph D Natural Historian
Chapter Twenty-Two: Artist Godwin-Austen the Artist, by Peter Mallalieu, Keeper of Pictures at the Alpine Club, and with Additional Notes by Jerry Lovatt, past Vice-President and Honorary Librarian, the Alpine Club The military artist and the documentary art record Haversham Godwin-Austen's artistic training at Sandhurst Robert Petley (1812-69) William Carpenter (1818-99) William Carpenter in Kashmir Godwin-Austen with the Great Trigonometrical survey
Part Five: The Shadows Lengthen
Chapter Twenty-Three: War and Politics Life in wartime Late military thoughts
Chapter Twenty-Four: Last Contacts with the East The first Mount Everest expedition Conversion to Buddhism
Chapter Twenty-Five: The Ghost of Kudikji A surprising correspondence The return of Naomi Florence
Chapter Twenty-Six: Final years Ailments The RGS pictures Death, burial and obituaries
Catherine Moorehead was educated and brought up in Scotland. She teaches English at the Royal Grammar School, Guildford. She has climbed all the Munros, lead six expeditions to Central Asia and run the RumDoodle Mountaineering Society. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and an Associate Member of the Alpine Club.