Graham Brown Collection


Graham Brown Collection


A large library of Alpine and mountaineering literature formed by the Edinburgh physiologist Professor Thomas Graham Brown (1882-1965). The collection consists of around 20,000 items, comprising works on the history of Alpine climbing and exploration from the 16th to the 20th century, and books on climbing, travel and exploration in other parts of the world, including the Caucasus, the Andes and the Himalayas. There are also a number of works on Arctic exploration, mountaineering journals in runs of varying completeness with the contents listed in a card-index, over 250 volumes of press-cuttings, maps and extracts from periodicals, postcards and large numbers of photographs and lantern slides, and proofs of his major work 'Brenva'. The collection includes around 160 maps, predominantly Swiss, French and Italian maps of the 19th and the early 20th century, with the earliest being John Dury's map of the Kingdom of Sardinia (1783).

Prof Graham Brown left his estate in trust to enable additions to be made to the collection in the fields of mountaineering and polar exploration, building on the strengths of the Lloyd and Wordie Collections. Books on all aspects of mountains and mountaineering in all languages are currently acquired, and material relating to the polar and sub-polar regions (especially in the field of discovery and exploration) has also been purchased. Highlights among the acquisitions since 1965 are: editions of programmes for Albert Smith's panorama of the ascent of Mont Blanc (GB/A.4472), 'The Antarctic book: winter quarters, 1907-1909' signed by every member of Ernest Shackleton's Nimrod expedition (GB/B.962), 'Aurora Australis, 1908-09' printed by the Nimrod expedition members in Antarctica (GB/B.422), and a playbill printed aboard ship in the Arctic on the search for Sir John Franklin's expedition (GB/C.219). The Library has also been able to acquire an album of photographs taken on the First Everest Expedition of 1921 by Charles Howard-Bury (GB.Phot.1). Additions of both early and modern maps, atlases and panoramas are also regularly made to the collection. The acquisition of the Graham Brown and the Lloyd and Wordie Collections made the Library a major centre for research in mountaineering and polar exploration. The strength of the existing collections continues to attract further substantial gifts including, in 1971, the Scottish Mountaineering Club's deposit of their records and other documents, covering the years 1889 to 1959.


The books have been catalogued individually and have the shelfmark 'GB.'. Additions to the collection, acquired through the Graham Brown fund, have the shelfmark 'GB/A.', 'GB/B.', GB/C.' and 'GB.Phot.'. The collection received in 1961 has the shelfmark 'G.Brown.'.


The main collection of books and manuscripts was bequeathed to the Library by Prof Graham Brown in 1965. A smaller collection of 20 volumes had been donated by him in 1961.

Related collections

Manuscript material includes diaries for the period from 1898 to 1960, correspondence, climbing diary notebooks, and papers relating to Graham Brown's period as editor of the 'Alpine Journal' (1949-53), and to his book, written with Sir Gavin de Beer, 'The First Ascent of Mont Blanc,' London, 1957. The manuscripts are held at Acc.4338 and MSS.5167-5169 (described and indexed in Vol. 5 of the Library's Catalogue of manuscripts).

The maps are held in the Library's map collections.


'Mountaineering: Catalogue of the Graham Brown and Lloyd Collections', Edinburgh, 1994 (catalogue contains printed books catalogued up to 30.6.1987, plus microfiche supplements covering acquisitions made up to the end of 1995).

'Thomas Graham Brown 1882-1965 [exhibition catalogue]', Edinburgh, 1982.

Online resources

Brief biography of Thomas Graham Brown





Maps, atlases and mapmaking



Polar studies and exploration

Voyages and travels