The Maverick Mountaineer

Robert Wainwright

RRP: £9.99

4 August 2016

Published by Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760113490

RRP: £17.99

7 January 2016

Published by Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760111922

RRP: £6.99

1 January 2017

Published by Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781925268430

In the spring of 1901 a teenager stood on top of a hill, gazed out in wonderment at the Australian landscape and decided he wanted to be a mountaineer. Two decades later, the same man stood in a blizzard beneath the summit of Mount Everest, within sight of his goal to be the first to stand on the roof of the world. George Finch was at the highest point ever reached by a human being and only his decision to save the life of his stricken companion stopped him from reaching the summit.

George Finch was a rebel of the first order, a man who dared to challenge the British establishment who disliked his independence, background, long hair and lack of an Oxbridge education. Despite this, he not only became one of the world’s greatest alpinists, earning the grudging respect of his rival George Mallory, but pioneered the use of the artificial oxygen that enabled Everest to finally be conquered thirty years after his own attempt. A renowned scientist, a World War I hero and a Fellow of the Royal Society, involved in the development of some of the twentieth century’s most important inventions, his skills helped save London from burning to the ground during the Blitz. Finch’s public accomplishments, however, were shadowed by his complicated private life and his fraught relationship with his son, the actor Peter Finch.

Acclaimed biographer Robert Wainwright restores George Finch to his rightful place in history with this remarkable tribute to one of the twentieth century’s most eccentric anti-heroes.

‘One of the two best Alpinists of his time – Mallory was the other.’ The Times


[A] compelling biography... As a study of a man whose greatness we would do well to remember and applaud, it sparkles.

Finch emerges from the pages of Robert Wainwright's The Maverick Mountaineer as a keen explorer of geographical, professional and romantic terrain... Wainwright chronicles it all with aplomb... Wainwright has done a fine job of rescuing his protagonist from the footnotes of climbing history. He has restored the reputation of a man whose achievements were frequently overshadowed by the romantic fate of Mallory and the later triumph of Edmund Hillary. We rediscover a climber who, as Finch phrased it, had "the craft at his finger-ends".
Daily Telegraph

Finch was the best technical climber of his time, and he reached farther up Everest than anyone had done before - stopping only to carry a novice companion to safety. Few Western climbers have contributed as much...The best passages... are those that describe the battle of scientific progress against entrenched snobbery - a fight that may have cost Finch the chance to stand on top of the world, but ought to be remembered.
The Economist

Robert Wainwright has conjured up the rasp of crampons on sheet ice, the taste of peaches eaten from the tin, and the bitchiness endemic among the frozen-bearded tribe of climbers and explorers

Sydney Morning Herald

Tells the story of a difficult, brilliant man whose remarkable achievements were overshadowed by those of the better-known Mallory and Sir Edmund Hillary.
Daily Mail

A marvellously entertaining story that at times resembles a glossy television period drama.
Daily Express on Sheila

The charm of Wainwright's biography is that he makes us see what an engaging, admirable and sometimes heroic quality it is to be a life-enhancer like Sheila.Jane Shilling, Daily Mail on Sheila

This splendid biography evokes the glamour of a vanished age.
Mail on Sunday on Sheila

Wainwright's extremely readable style is largely linear, with tantalising references to future events.
Yorkshire Post

The Maverick Mountaineer is a skilfully written books which contains much assiduous research. The narrative is thoughtfully enhanced by the use of diaries and letters from the Finch family archive.
Climb Magazine