John Keay

Everest; the Welshman for whom the Mountain was Named

The world’s highest mountain was named after an army officer who didn’t call himself Everest, barely acknowledged his Welshness, and never clapped eyes on the mountain. Yet the name has stuck. For it was indeed the cantankerous Colonel George Everest who, in the course of two decades map-making across the sweltering Indian plains, made possible the measurement of nearly all the frozen summits of the Great Himalaya. John Keay sets his sights on a much misunderstood man and a world-shaping achievement.


John Keay has been writing about India for over forty years.  His India: A History (2000, 2010) is the standard narrative account of South Asia’s past, while India Discovered (1981 and still in print) has inspired a generation of research into the nineteenth-century reconstruction of India’s classical past.  Also still in print is his The Honourable Company (1991), a sweeping history of the English East India Company.  He lives in Scotland. His The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of how India was Mapped and Everest was Named appeared in 2000. His latest work is an intriguing biographical quest - The Tartan Turban: In Search of Alexander Gardner (2017).