Edmund Hillary

New Zealand mountaineer and philanthropist (1919-2008)

Sir Edmund Percival Hillary , (born 20 July 1919, died 11 January 2008) was a New Zealand mountaineer and explorer. He and Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay were the first people to climb Mount Everest. They got to the top on 29 May 1953. Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth. During his teenage years, Hillary had attended Auckland Grammar School.

Sir Edmund Hillary

Hillary in 2006
Edmund Percival Hillary

(1919-07-20)20 July 1919
Auckland, New Zealand
Died11 January 2008(2008-01-11) (aged 88)
Auckland, New Zealand
Cause of deathMyocardial infarction
Spouse(s)Louise Mary Rose (1953–1975)
June Mulgrew, QSM (1989–2008)
ChildrenPeter (1954)
Sarah (1955)
Belinda (1959–1975)
Parent(s)Percival Augustus Hillary
Gertrude Hillary, née Clark

Sir Edmund Hillary's fame came as a result of being the first New Zealander in the world to conquer Mt. Everest in Nepal. He is on the New Zealand five dollar note. He also climbed ten other mountains after Mount Everest, all of which are also in the Himalayas.

Early life


Hillary was born to Percival Augustus Hillary and Gertrude Hillary, née Clark, in Auckland, New Zealand, on 20 July 1919.[1] His family moved to Tuakau (south of Auckland) in 1920, after his father (who served at Gallipoli) had gotten land there.[2] His grandparents were early settlers in northern Wairoa in the mid 19th century after moving from Yorkshire, England.[3]

Hillary learned at Tuakau Primary School and then Auckland Grammar School.[2] He finished primary school two years early, but he did not do very well at high school.[4] At first, he was smaller than other students there and very shy so he felt safe with his books and often thought of a life filled with adventure. Every day, he rode a train to and from high school, and he often used this time to read. Learning how to box helped him become more confident. At age 16 his interest in climbing started during a school trip to Mount Ruapehu. Although very tall at 6 ft 5 in (195 cm), he was stronger than many of his fellow hikers.[5] He learned about mathematics and science at The University of Auckland, and in 1939 he completed his first important climb, which was reaching the top of a mountain called Mount Ollivier.[2] With his brother Rex, Hillary became a beekeeper[1][6] during summertime, which allowed him to do climbing in the winter.[7]

Personal life


Hillary married Louise Mary Rose in 1953, by whom he had a son and two daughters. In 1975, his wife and their younger daughter were killed in a plane crash. Hillary married June Mulgrew in 1989; they remained married until he died.

Hillary died of a heart attack in Auckland, at the age of 88.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Christchurch City Libraries, Famous New Zealanders. Retrieved January 23, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The early years - Ed Hillary, New Zealand History online - Nga korero aipurangi o Aotearoa, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Wellington, New Zealand. Updated 2008-01-11. Accessed 2008-01-12.
  3. Tyler, Heather Tyler Authorised Hillary biography reveals private touches Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine. NZ Herald. October 8, 2005.
  4. Simon Robinson, Sir Edmund Hillary: Top of the World Archived 2008-01-15 at the Wayback Machine, Time Magazine, 2008-01-10. Accessed 2008-01-14.
  5. Timesonline.co.uk dated January 11, 2008, retrieved January 12, 2008
  6. Robert Sullivan, Time Magazine, Sir Edmund Hillary—A visit with the world's greatest living adventurer Archived 2003-09-21 at the Wayback Machine, 12 September, 2003. Retrieved 22 January, 2007.
  7. National Geographic, Everest: 50 Years and Counting Archived 2006-11-16 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 22 January, 2007.