Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

THE LAST ENGLISHMEN: Love, War and the End of Empire

  • Written by  Jules Stewart
  • Published in Books
THE LAST ENGLISHMEN: Love, War and the End of Empire
06 Sep
2018
by Deborah Baker • Chatto & Windus • £25 (hardback)

Deborah Baker’s ambitious and entertaining book narrates the exploits of geologist John Auden and surveyor Michael Spender, whose journey of exploration took them through the Indian subcontinent at the closing of the British Empire. Auden was a pioneering geologist of the Himalayan region, while Spender became the first to draw a detailed map of the North Face approach to Everest.

Their work mirrored the romantic ideal of a generation coming to terms with the loss of Britain’s dominion over her most dazzling imperial possession. Auden diligently studied and surveyed the mountains to learn how and why the range was formed, and in doing so became a pioneer in detecting the fault that runs the 1,500-mile length of the Himalaya. The conquest of Everest itself was at that time a metaphor for Britain’s struggle to maintain power over India. Spender used his craft of photogrammetry, making measurements from photos, to create topographic maps. During the war, he defined the art of photographic interpretation and was able to identify Nazis amassing equipment.

Set in Calcutta, Baker’s book also focuses on those who figured in the world of art, poetry, and prose, which included the celebrated relations of the two protagonists. WH Auden was John’s brother, while Stephen Spender was the brother of Michael. The story is also one of a romantic rivalry when Auden and Spender both fell in love with the painter Nancy Sharp. Four years later she married Spender, who died in an air crash shortly after the war. Along with Christopher Isherwood, these were the luminaries who defined that era’s cultural landscape.

The history of Empire is seen here through a unique prism, one of mountaineering and the pursuit of Everest’s summit. It also offers an insight into India’s role in the Second World War.

Click here to buy The Last Englishman  by Deborah Baker on Amazon

Subscribe and Save!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Books

by Rory O’Grady • The Conrad Press • £18.99 (hardback)

Books

by Penny Johnson • Melville House • £25 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Monisha Rajesh • Bloomsbury • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Jon Mathieu • Polity Press • £19.99 (hardback)

Books

by Matthieu Auzanneau • Chelsea Green Publishing • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Nancy Campbell • Scribnern • £14.99 (hardback)

Exhibitions

Paris is home to Europe’s largest science museum. Its latest…

Books

by Richard Wrangham • Profile Books  • £25 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Yasha Levine • Icon Books • £14.99 (paperback)

Books

by Matthew Carr • Hurst • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Seamus O’Brien • Kew Publishing • £40 (hardback)

Books

by Simon Jenkins • Viking • £25 (hardback)

Films

A harrowing and honest portrayal of the working life of…

Films

One man’s recreation of an epic 1930s survival experience deep…

Books

by Tom Harper • The British Library • £30 (hardback)

Books

by Susan Schulten • The British Library • £30 (hardback)

Books

by Ben & Marina Fogle • William Collins • £20 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Tim Flannery • Allen Lane • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Keith Wilson • £40 (hardback)