Four fantastic new travel photography books for your coffee table

From a new photography-led tome celebrating 100 years since the first British reconnaissance climb of Mount Everest to a glossy compendium of beautiful rural stays in the UK, here are four fantastic new releases for 2021. 

By Sarah Barrell
Published 14 Jun 2021, 08:00 BST, Updated 2 Aug 2021, 19:35 BST
Four fantastic new travel photography books for your coffee table.

Four fantastic new travel photography books for your coffee table, from Infinity House: An Endless View to Stone Age: Ancient Castles of Europe.

Photograph by National Geographic Traveller (UK)

This year marks a century since the first British mountaineering team made a reconnaissance climb of  Everest — one of five key expeditions that took place between 1921 and 1953 aiming to tackle the summit of the world. Carrying a wide range of photography equipment including Vest Pocket Kodak cameras and panoramic cameras, these climbs brought back the most heart-stopping mountain photographs ever seen. Not only did the 1921 reconnaissance expedition expand greatly on early recorded images of Everest and the Tibetan people, but it also paved the way for future ascents of our planet’s loftiest peak.

These ground-breaking images are now bound in one striking new tome. Everest collates 268 images of frozen gorges, glaciers, ice fields and pinnacles, vividly illustrating the story of these and subsequent expeditions, commissioned exclusively for The Folio Society, including some prized archive photos from The Royal Geographic Society (RGS). Among the jaw-dropping landscapes are close-up shots of pioneering ascents made by the likes of Mallory, Irvine, Hillary and Tenzing, including the tragic 1924 expedition that claimed the lives of Mallory and Irvine. The triumphant, official climb of Hillary and Tenzing in 1953 is also documented, with captions and commentary by award-winning mountaineering writer, Peter Gillman.

While Edmund Hillary’s shot of Tenzing Norgay on Everest’s peak ranks as one of the most famous news photographs of the 20th century, other scenes, many of which have been given a sharp new lease of life via digital scans taken from the RGS archive’s fragile silver-nitrate negatives, reanimate the realities of expeditions captured a century ago at altitudes of around 23,000ft.

Accompanying A Photographic History, the second volume of this two-part, cloth-bound boxed edition, An Eyewitness History brings together first-person accounts from those who made the ascents. The articles, dispatches, memoirs, official reports and private letters are introduced by anthropologist, photographer and former National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Wade Davis, with a preface from journalist and historian Jan Morris, the last surviving member of the 1953 expedition, who submitted her writing to The Folio Society prior to her death in 2020.

Everest: From Reconnaissance to Summit, 1921 to 1953 is compiled and edited by Peter Gillman, with a preface by Jan Morris, introduced by Wade Davis, and published by The Folio Society, RRP: £199. 

Three more books on beautiful buildings

1. Infinity House: An Endless View

Expect serious living room envy in this glossy showcase of beautiful abodes around the world, from Italy to the Bahamas. Alongside full-colour shots, there are also profiles from leading architects and designers, who share their insights into the challenges of building such homes in unspoilt locations. The Images Publishing Group, RRP: £35

2. Stone Age: Ancient Castles of Europe

Following his portfolio of Soviet architecture, photographer Frédéric Chaubin has turned his lens to the castles of Europe in this evocative new tome. It was five years in the making and is a soul-stirring collection highlighting more than 200 of the continent’s ancient fortresses and all their simple, enduring geometry that went on to shape so much of Europe’s rich architectural heritage. Taschen, RRP: £50

3. Stay Wild

A timely arrival for summer, this new book taps into a newfound appreciation of the outdoors: a gloriously green ramble through Canopy & Stars’ most spectacular rural getaways, from tents to treehouses. Central to the book is the joy of nature, with tips on how and why we should be embracing our wild side. It also includes contributions from Emily Eavis, co-organiser of Glastonbury Festival, and other lovers of the great outdoors. Gestalten and Canopy & Stars, RRP: £3

Published in the Jul/Aug 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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