Yesterday Exact Editions released Geographical’s complete 80+ year archive. For some months we have been working with Syon publishing to collect and scan all the back issues then to prepare a complete database of the magazine and this is now fully available and will be a great resource for individual subscribers to the magazine and for the institutions and libraries that have site licenses.


It was also of direct interest to me because I knew that my father had contributed some articles to the magazine in the early years. So it was a moment of excitement when I searched the database for “Robin Hodgkin” and “R A Hodgkin“, sure enough four articles showed up, for three of them he was the author. For the first he was merely mentioned as a member of a small team of climbers that had made some pioneering climbs in the Caucasus a year earlier. The four young climbers managed a trip of about 5 weeks in the Caucasus for less than £70 a person (half of that going on third class train fares from London to Benezinki and back), they had partly covered their costs by writing articles for the Times and then newly founded Geographical magazine.

Robin’s next trip as a mountaineer was something of a disaster as he went very high on Masherbrum, a little known but remote and high peak in the Karakorum, where he and his climbing partner were avalanched and escaped after a desperate retreat in which they were badly frost bitten. This account has some glorious grainy shots of Ladakh and the high mountains,  and these 12 pages are currently part of the free open sample.

A large magazine archive is a valuable historical resource — eg for attitudes towards exploration and travel in the 1930’s, more generally for social mores and expectations, but there is perhaps as much potential value in the advertisements and announcements as in the journalism that is now so fascinating. This Sanatogen advert reminds us how much more constrained and regulated pharmaceutical advertising is now. It is clear there was no Ben Goldacre in the 1930s