George and Ashley Abraham

George and Ashley Abraham (George Dixon Abraham, FRPS, 7 October 1871 – 4 March 1965; Ashley Perry Abraham, 20 February 1876 – 9 October 1951), sometimes referred to as "The Keswick Brothers", were climbers, authors and photographers who lived in Keswick, Cumberland in the English Lake District.[1] They made a photographic record of the exploits of many of the climbing pioneers, especially Owen Glynne Jones, with whom they formed a close climbing partnership from 1896 until his death in 1899. Most of their work was done between 1890 and 1920 and forms a valuable record of the evolution of early rock-climbing in the English Lake District.[2][3]

Early lifeEdit

They were the two eldest of four sons of George Perry Abraham (1844–1923), a photographer, postcard publisher, and mountaineer, and his wife Mary Dixon.[4] Their brother Sidney was a bank manager in Keswick, and brother John Abraham became acting Governor of Tanganyika.[4]

Rock climbingEdit

Portrait and signature of Owen Glynne Jones from his book Rock-climbing in the English Lake District
Photograph from Jones's book, Rock-climbing in the English Lake District

One of their many first ascents in the Lakes was the 74 m "Keswick Brother's Climb" on Scafell crag on 12 July 1897, now considered "Very Difficult" in the British grading system. Another memorable first ascent was of "Crowberry Ridge Direct" (graded "Severe") on the Scottish Munro Buachaille Etive Mor in 1900.

After their co-operation with Jones in his very successful Rock Climbing in the English Lake District (1897), they produced companion volumes, Rock Climbing in North Wales (George, in 1906) and Rock Climbing in Skye (Ashley, in 1907).[5] These attempted to emulate Jones' exuberant style, and were of course illustrated with their own photographs.

Throughout their career the brothers' camera of choice was the Underwood Instanto, which recorded images on 8.5 x 6.5 inch photographic plates.[3] Many of their climbing photographs, (including the classic portrait of Owen Glynne Jones), were reproduced in Alan Hankinson's Camera on the Crags. A large selection is also in the possession of the FRCC (The Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District), of which the brothers were founding members and Ashley its first president.[6]

The Abrahams' photographic shop in Keswick, built in 1887, was taken over in due course by local mountaineer George Fisher; the modern shop still contains many memorabilia, including photographs, from the Abrahams' era.

One of George Abraham's daughters, Enid J. Wilson, was for many years the Lakeland diarist for The Guardian newspaper. On 8 May 2011 a granddaughter of Ashley Abraham appeared on BBC1's Antiques Roadshow displaying a number of period photographs and glass photographic slides.




  • Jones, Owen Glynne (1897). Rock-climbing in the English Lake District. London: Longmans, Green & Co.
  • Abraham, Ashley P. (1908). Rock-climbing in Skye. London: Longmans.
  • Abraham, George D. (1911). Swiss Mountain Climbs. London: Mills & Boon.
  • Abraham, George D. (1923). First Steps to Climbing. London: Mills & Boon.
  • Abraham, George D. (1933). Modern Mountaineering. London: Methuen.
  • Abraham, George D. (1935). Guide To Keswick & The Vale of Derwentwater. Keswick: G.P. Abraham.
  • Abraham, George D. (1946). Derwentwater Holiday Book. Keswick: G.P. Abraham.


  • Abraham, Ashley P. (1902). "With a Camera Up Mont Blanc". Cassell's Magazine. Vol. 34 no. 4. London: Cassell. pp. 339–346.
  • Abraham, George D. (1905). "Gambling with Nature". Gunter's Magazine. Vol. 1 no. 6. New York: The Home Publishing Company. pp. 740–750.
  • Abraham, George D. (1912). "How to Climb Safely in the Alps". The Pall Mall Magazine. Vol. 50 no. 1 (No. 231). London: Routledge. pp. 2–15.
  • Abraham, George D. (1914). "Some New British Climbs". The Wide World Magazine. Vol. 33 no. 5 (No. 197). London: George Newnes.
  • Abraham, George D. (1916). "Winter-Sport Mountaineering: How to Avoid Its Dangers". The Wide World Magazine. Vol. 36 no. 6 (No. 216). London: George Newnes.
  • Abraham, George D. (13 September 1924). "A Mountain Smuggler". The Graphic. 110 (2859). London: Edward Joseph Mansfield. p. 434.



  • Abraham, Ashley P. (1914). Beautiful North Wales. Keswick: G.P. Abraham.



  • Abraham, Ashley P. (1900). "A Cure for Consumption: Dr. Otto Walther and His Work". The Windsor Magazine. Vol. 11 no. 3 (No. 62). London: Ward, Lock & Co. pp. 365–371.[a]

See alsoEdit

  • M. J. B. Baddeley - a leading writer of a Lakes guidebook in the older text-based style
  • W. A. Poucher - who further developed the Abrahams' style of highly-illustrated guides


  1. ^ The brothers were excused active service during the First World War on medical grounds, in Ashley's case because he had previously suffered from Tuberculosis.[3]
  2. ^ An account of a trip down the Greenside Lead Mine (Cumbria) made by the author.


  1. ^ McConnell, Anita (2004). "Abraham, George Dixon (1871–1965), photographer and rock-climber". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/61041. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Hankinson, Alan (1974). "The Keswick Brothers" (PDF). The Alpine Journal. Vol. 79. London: The Alpine Club. pp. 55–64. ISSN 0065-6925. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Hankinson, Alan (1990). Camera on the Crags: A Portfolio Of Early Rock Climbing Photographs By The Abraham Brothers. Cambridge: Silent Books. ISBN 1851830189.
  4. ^ a b Crow, Footless (25 June 2010). "Footless Crow: The Abraham Brothers Photographing the past". Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  5. ^ Smith, Calum (2020). "The Book of Abraham". The Black Cuillin: The Story of Skye's Mountains. pp. 147–168. ISBN 978-0954070434.
  6. ^ Parker, June (1986). Cram, A.G. (ed.). "The Abraham Collection of Mountaineering Photographs" (PDF). The Fell and Rock Journal. Vol. 24 no. 2 (No. 70). The Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District. pp. 129–138. ISBN 0850280230.
  • A. Phizacklea (1996), Scafell, Wasdale & Eskdale, Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District.

Further readingEdit

  • Steinberg, Susan (2008). Capturing the Mountains: The Lake District Through the Lens of the Abraham Brothers. Keswick: Abraham Photographic. ISBN 978-0955882401.