Norton of Everest

The biography of E.F. Norton, soldier and mountaineer

Author: Mr Hugh Norton

Series title:

Paperback publication date: 11 May 2017

Paperback ISBN: 9781910240922

In Norton of Everest, Hugh Norton has written sensitively and knowledgably about his father's remarkable life as pioneering mountaineer, soldier, naturalist, artist and family man. As on Everest, the real story is not the death of the gallant, but the heroics of the quiet survivors like E.F. Norton.

Major Norton gave the order to fire two or three times … Their advanced machine gunners could be seen rushing forward and establishing themselves in commanding posts … Almost at once the ridge we were occupying was swept by machine gun fire …  E.F. Norton lived a life of distinction in the declining years of the British Empire. Born into an accomplished, well-travelled family, he followed his heart and enlisted for a professional career as a soldier. A distinguished military career followed, punctuated with indulgences in his passion for exploration and mountaineering. The British Empire was starting to crumble, and Norton would be called upon more than once to rise to a variety of challenges. Norton’s gift for leadership was first demonstrated via his rapid progression through the ranks in the First World War, which paved the way for future leadership appointments, having earned the confidence and respect of those under his command. Events in the Second World War followed suit, when Norton was abruptly assigned the post of acting governor of Hong Kong, entrusted to save the civilian population from imminent Japanese invasion. The 1924 Everest expedition also exemplifies the pattern of having had leadership thrust upon him – in this case when General Charles Bruce was struck down by malaria on the approach march. Leading from the front, Norton set an altitude record for climbing on Everest without supplementary oxygen – a record only bettered in 1978 when Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler made the first ascent of Everest without oxygen. Yet tragedy would follow Norton’s achievement, when George Mallory and Andrew Irvine disappeared high on the mountain. In Norton of Everest, Hugh Norton has written sensitively and knowledgably about his father’s remarkable life as mountaineer, soldier, naturalist, artist and family man. As on Everest, the real story is not only the death of the gallant, but also the heroics of the quiet survivors like E.F. Norton.

Hugh Norton is is the youngest of the three sons of renowned Everest pioneer and military leader E.F. - Teddy - Norton, whose life is the subject of Norton of Everest. After growing up in Hampshire, Hugh graduated from the University of Oxford with a Bachelor's degree in history and philosophy. He spent his entire career (thirty-six years) in the oil industry working for BP, finishing as an executive director on its main board from 1989-1995. From 1995 to the present day he has held a number of part-time, non-executive appointments in both the commercial and not-for-profit sectors, and he is currently a board member of two not-for-profit ventures in the Bristol area, with a common theme of sustainability, in which he is greatly interested. He recently contributed to the new edition of The Fight for Everest 1924 (Vertebrate Publishing, 2015), the account of the third expedition to Everest, which was led by his father, and on which George Mallory and Andrew Irvine disappeared. In his leisure time Hugh enjoys travel, painting, chess, choral singing, hillwalking, and - above all - family life. All this keeps him busy, and he can safely say that he has never suffered from boredom. Now retired, he lives in rural Somerset with his wife and two teenage children; frequent visits are also made to Scotland where his son and grandson from his first marriage reside.

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