29 July 2010

Pilley and Richards 002: More Info on the Japanese Photograph: Dorothy Pilley (1894-1986), Female Mountaineer (Japanese Photograph, 1927)

Dorothy Pilley was born on 16 September1894 at 167 Camberwell Grove, Camberwell, London (will check out this address soon). She became interested in climbing, which was a predominantly male pastime, after a holiday in Wales. She didn't just climb Welsh mountains, she guided people in the French Alps, Mont Blanc chain, Spanish and French Pyrenees, Italian Alps, Oberland, and Valais.

She married Ivor in December 1926 in Honolulu during a two-year world tour, which included the Canadian and American Rockies. In 1927 she ended the tour trekking in the Himalayas and then the Alps. I cannot find a reference to Japan in 1927. Her husband's academic positions took them to Peking in 1929-30, Yunnan Japanese Alps and Korea in 1936-8, and then on to the USA from 1939 to 1974 ( I will write about him next as he is also very interesting). She wrote a book in 1935 called 'Climbing Days' (already on order from Amazon). I will be scouring it for Japanese references when it arrives!

She became the first vice-president of the Alpine Club in 1975. I found a lovely piece on her that stated that "she spent her last New Year, aged 91, at the climbers' hut at Glen Brittle, Skye, drinking whisky and talking mountains with a party of Scottish climbers". She died aged 91 in 1986 and left no children. (Some info found: Carol A. Osborne, ‘Richards , Dorothy Eleanor (1894–1986)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004)

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