This was a memoir of George Leigh Mallory, written at his widow Ruth's request the year of the ill-fated Everest expedition in which Mallory and Irvine were lost. Mary Anne maintained in Moments of Knowing that it would have embarrassed her family were she to publish the tales of her youth with such illustrious men in mountaineering as Sir Francis Younghusband, Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, and most especially George Mallory, but her true reasons were somewhat more complex. Her reminiscence of George has languished unpublished in its original form, but Sir David Pye used parts in his splendid 1927 memoir, as did David Robertson in his biography; without Mary Anne's help, these books would never have been written.
Since the discovery of the body of George Mallory near the summit of Everest in May 1999, many very fine books have been published on the Everest expeditions, and on George himself. In all of these 'Cottie' Sanders remains an elusive figure, described variously and tersely as a 'climbing friend' or a 'casual sweetheart'. The depth of their friendship, which lasted all of Mallory's life, has never been plumbed. She called him the first friend she ever made on her own - a sentiment echoed by many others, including Robert Graves. For her part, Mary Anne alone of all his 'climbing friends' shared George's mystical love of the mountains, and they carried between them a spiritual understanding that endured all the vicissitudes of their lives. Her place as George's first biographer springs from that understanding.
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