Entity Type:
Brown, Thomas Graham (1882-1965)
Brown, Thomas Graham (1882-1965)
Eccentric academician and physiologist Professor Thomas Graham Brown had gone about as far as he could in his scientific career by 1927. Instead, he channeled his energy into the world of climbing which he adopted with a passion. The chief focus of his interest in the 1930s was the western Alps, and in particular, the magnificent, scarcely explored Brenva Face of Mont Blanc. Graham’s acute scientific training meant he approached the identification of new lines with the same rigour as if he might have been differentiating the muscle fibres in a freshly dissected animal; the result was the discovery and climbing of the famous so-called ‘triptych’ of classic alpine routes on the Brenva: Route Major, Red Sentinel, and The Pear, which he climbed with the very different personality of Frank Smythe. Although working well as a climbing team, their differences led to a long-running feud. Frank Smythe's more romantic nature, and popular writer’s imagination proved anathema to the Brown's rigorously scientific inability to compromise on matters of fact. Smythe’s commercially embellished account of his experiences on the Brenva Face so enraged Brown that he carried on a long-term vendetta against his former partner, almost as though he wished to expose the Smythe as a bogus sham. Although this was an unfortunate character flaw on Brown’s part (it resulted in a similar feud with the equally romantic Geoffrey Winthrop-Young and a forced resignation from the editorship of the Alpine Journal), he is remembered for his great climbs and the classic book, Brenva, in which he related his great campaign.
Further reading: Brenva, T.Graham Brown.
Biographical information is kindly supplied by Colin Wells.
2006-08-06 00:00:00
Maxine Willett
Access Points:
Brown, Thomas Graham (1882-1965)