Entity Type:
Bristow, Emily Caroline (1864-1935), known as Lily
Lily Bristow, born Emily Caroline Bristow in 1864 in Brixton, London was one of the outstanding new breed of female alpinists of the later nineteenth century. She became famous in 1892 when, along with a French female climber, became the first women to ascend the Charmoz as part of a team led by A F Mummery. Bristow went on to take part in difficult climbs on the Dru, Zinal Rothorn, Matterhorn and the second-ever traverse of the Grepon. It was this performance that prompted Mummery’s famous quip about the revered route being ‘an easy day for a lady’. But Bristow was clearly no ordinary lady; she represented the vanguard of skilful women climbers which would continue to grow as the world entered the 20th century. Bristow probably started climbing at some point between 1883 and 1891. She was a friend of Mummery and his climbing wife but it is not clear whether this happy mountaineering ménage à trois was as innocent as it seemed, for Bristow did not climb with Mummery in 1894 – some say after the intervention of his wife. Lily was an artist, who had studied with Edith Petherick, Mary Mummery's youngest sister. Lily's artistic history included study at Herkomer's Art School in Bushey, Hertfordshire, with Edith. Hubert von Herkomer was particularly interested in photography as an art form and the potential of film. He probably encouraged Lily to take her half-plate camera on the Grepon where she took one of the first 'action shots' in mountaineering history - of Mummery climbing the 'Mummery Crack'. Lily and Edith were illustrators for the first edition of Mummery's 'My Climbs in the Alps and Caucasus' (1895). After Mummery died on Nanga Parbat in 1895 there are no further records of Bristow continuing her climbing career. Lily herself died in 1935 in Surrey.
Further reading: Women Climbing, Bill Birkett & Bill Peascod. Black, 1989.
Shackles of Convention: Women Mountaineers before 1914, by Malcolm Craig, 2013
Biographical information is kindly supplied by Colin Wells and Margaret Craig.
2006-08-06 00:00:00
Maxine Willett
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Bristow, Emily Caroline (1864-1935), known as Lily