The Evidence of Things Not Seen
A Mountaineer's Tale
- W. H. Murray
- Hardback (320pp)
- 05 Mar 1998
GRAND PRIZE WINNER - Banff Mountain Book Festival 2002
‘In climbing there is an elation when all is going well. You make the moves surely and swiftly with rhythm. When you are climbing well, you know it. The same goes for writing. The two crafts are often akin ... When you are off form you write clumsily, just as you move clumsily; you pick wrong words as you pick wrong holds. You lose the purpose and thread of writing as you lose route – but on mountains and in writing when good form is struck, when it all comes together, when inspiration is caught and held … the world is yours.’
W.H. Murray is one of Britain’s finest mountain writers. A climber, writer and environmental campaigner, he pioneered climbs in Scotland, explored the Himalaya and wrote a number of remarkable books on climbing and mountaineering.
The Evidence of Things Not Seen, his multiple-award winning autobiography, ranges from his early climbs in Scotland in the 1930s to Second World War combat in Africa and three years in Nazi prison camps (during which time Murray wrote his famous Mountaineering in Scotland not once, but twice, on toilet paper). Exploratory Himalayan ventures follow, including the 1951 Everest reconnaissance trip that established the crucial route through the Khumbu Icefall, before his focus returns to the Scottish crags, and to environmental matters and the struggle against the predations of the forestry and hydroelectric industries.
Murray’s writing captures the element of awe and wonder at the power of wild landscapes. His philosophical concerns add extra depth to his words as he seeks ‘that other side of night’. He sees the mountain environment as one which offers fine areas for recreation, but also sanctuaries for reflection.
This autobiography is essential reading for mountaineers, climbers, conservationists, thinkers, or indeed anyone that appreciates our remaining wild spaces.
W.H. Murray was born in Liverpool in 1913. Two years later his father was killed at Gallipoli, so his family moved back to Glasgow where Murray spent his childhood, school and college years before beginning a career in banking. He made his first climbs in 1934 and later joined a talented group of climbers in the Junior Mountaineering Club of Scotland. Murray describes how they strove to regain the dynamism of the early Scottish climbing that had been lost in the trauma of the Great War. After surviving long periods as a prisoner of war, attributed by some to his study of philosophy, Murray returned to mountaineering and later took part in key Himalayan expeditions of the 1950s. In 1951 Murray was on the critical reconnaissance that established a potential route up Everest via the Khumbu Icefall. Marrying happily, Murray built a career as a writer and conservationist, writing Highland Landscape a counsel of protection for the National Trust of Scotland. Murray died in 1996, and Evidence of Things not Seen was published posthumously.
- Title: The Evidence of Things Not Seen
- Sub-title: A Mountaineer's Tale
- Author: W. H. Murray
- Foreword: Hamish McInnes
- Imprint: Bâton Wicks
- ISBN: 978-1-898573-24-1
- Rights: Worldwide
- Publication date: March 1998
- Edition: First
- Format: Hardback
- Size: 245mm x 170mm
- Extent: 320 pages
- Weight: 920g
- Retail price: £20
‘A big, quiet book that resonated beyond the clamor of ego and conquest.’
Dermot Somers, Judge, Banff Mountain Festival of Literature and Culture
‘This autobiography captures the huge scope of Murray’s extraordinary life… I’d wager that many climbers under thirty have read little of Murray, seeing him as a remote figure from the past. This book has changed all that and made him relevant and current.’
Ed Douglas, Climber Magazine
‘Would it, live up to expectations? The answer is a resounding yes. Murray’s words of optimism, insight and humility flow from each page, No inflated ego, no cynicism, no backbiting… and no false modesty either.’
Jim Curran, High Magazine
‘Through the concise and page turning war days we learn that the author spent two years scribing Mountaineering in Scotland on toilet paper. The Gestapo found the then manuscript, interrogated Murray and then destroyed it, believing it was coded intelligence information. Over the next two years Murray describes how he forced himself to rewrite the book.’
Jonathan Waterman, American Alpine Journal
‘Bill Murray married a poet and the poetic sensibility which so often gives his work its depth is on display here. Its prose enhanced by pages of sumptuous photographs, valuable artefacts of climbing history in themselves, The Evidence of Things Not Seen is the memorial Murray deserves. Like a Highland sunset, his talent flared in glory one final time.’
David Rose, The Guardian