This page contains the latest news of our activities in the worlds of writing, journalism, movies and broadcasting.


One year after our book first appeared, it has now been published in a British paperback edition, and in the US and Germany.  The paperback is published by Simon and Schuster UK, the US publishers are Mountaineers Books of Seattle, and the German edition is by ASVerlag of Zurich.  The German edition was published on 25 March 2016 - timed to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the completion of the climb in 1966. Oh yes, and we were awarded the prize for the Outdoor Book of the Year by the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild. We collected the prize at the OWPG annual dinner and awards ceremony at Kielder in October 2015. 

 

Kleine Scheidegg reunion, March 2016: left to right, Jochen Hemmleb, our German co-author and translator; Leni and Peter; 1966 German climbers Roland Votteler, Rolf Rosenzopf, Gunther Schnaidt, Sigi Hupfauer; and John Harlin - son of the US climbing leader. 

 

On 4 June 2015 our new book was published.  It's called Extreme Eiger and it tells the full and dramatic story of the Eiger North Face Direct ascent of February and March 1966. For the first time it combines the narratives of the two competing teams attempting the direct.  There was the British/American team, led by John Harlin and including Chris Bonington and Layton Kor; and the eight-man German team, composed of comparatively unknown climbers.  The story is both compelling and revealing, we modestly believe. The publishers are Simon and Schuster and the cover price is £20.  The book took us longer than expected to research and write but we are pleased and proud with the result. 

 

In June 2014, we were in the USA, continuing research on the new Eiger book (see below) and doing travel journalism.  We were in Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Oklahoma.  Peter's photo shows the Vermilion Cliffs in Arizona. 

 

 

 In March 2014, Peter and Leni visited Switzerland to continue research on a book about the Eiger.  In 1966, Peter wrote Eiger Direct (with Dougal Haston), a dramatic report of a climb on the North Face by two competing teams, one US/British, one German. He and Leni are now writing a new account of the climb, to be published by Simon and Schuster next year.

 

 Eiger North Face in early-morning light - photo taken by Peter in March

In February 2014, Peter visited Ben Nevis to take part in a BBC Scotland radio documentary about a climbing trip to the mountain by Everest pioneer George Mallory at Easter 1906.  The Mallory climbs have only recently come to light and Peter was asked to take part in the documentary after delivering a talk to the Scottish Mountaineering Club in Fort William in December.  The Mallory visit is significant because it marks what is now known to be his first climbing expedition in Britain.

 

Peter waits to be interviewed by BBC's Chris Sleight

The story also involves a mystery, because Mallory and his two companions - Ronald Irving and Guy Leach - were unaware of the previous ascents on the mountain and so invented their own names for the routes and some of the mountain features.  Peter, with the aid of SMC experts, has cracked their code and identified exactly where the three men climbed.  Peter has written about this in an article for the Alpine Journal and in an appendix to a new edition of the Mallory biography The Wildest Dream, co-authored with Leni.

 

Peter's photo shows Chris Sleight and SMCJ editor Noel Williams on the walk to the CIC hut

Click here to download the radio programme.

Peter's original article about the episode can be read using the link below.

Link here: Mallory on the Ben


 
In March, an article by Peter appeared in the Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal (2012 edition).  It is about his pursuit of the Munros - Scottish mountains higher than 3000 feet - and his ascent of his final peak with Seth in 2012.

Link here:A Munro journey 

 

 

On February 16, Peter had an article published in the Independent ababout a forthcoming performance of the rarely-heard Third or Pastoral Symphony of Ralph Vaughan Williams.  The article was edited down from Peter's original version, so here is a link to the full text:

 http://www.peterleni.com/RVW3.pdf

In February 2013, Truman Capote was in the news over revelations that he had faked aspects of his acclaimed non-fiction novel In Cold Blood.   Peter made similar revelations all of 21 years ago, with his article for the Sunday Times Magazine about Capote's story Handcarved Coffins. There is a link to that piece on our Sunday Times page.  Peter wrote a reprise of his findings which appeared in the newspaper on February 17.  Link here:  

 http://www.peterleni.com/Capote Sunday Times Feb 17 2013.pdf

  

 In January 2013, David Bowie released his new single, Where Are We Now? accompanied by a video made in Berlin.  Critics and fans puzzled over the clues and allusions in the video, which went mostly unsolved.   But we recognised a key location in the video, an apartment block which was filmed from both the exterior and the entrance hall.  We knew it was at 155 Hauptstrasse in the Schoeneberg district of Berlin.  A story based on these and other findings appeared in the Sunday Times on 13 January, together with Peter's photograph of 155 Hauptstrasse, which he took when he was in Berlin researching our definitive biography Alias David Bowie, published in 1986.  Here is a link to the story we sent to the Sunday Times: 

 http://www.peterleni.com/Bowie in Berlin.pdf 

155 Hauptstrasse - Bowie's Berlin home for two years

 

 

In November, we made news of a different kind when we celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary.  We were invited to a concert at the Fairfield Halls which celebrated its own fiftieth  anniversary on the very same day.  The local newspaper ran a story about us:  http://www.thisiscroydontoday.co.uk/Radical-couple-mark-golden-wedding-anniversary/story-17216302-detail/story.html

There was also a story about our anniversary on the website of the Croydon Male Voice Choir (which Peter happens to edit).  Link here:http://www.croydonmalevoicechoir.co.uk/news-of-members 

 

 In October, the Mail on Sunday published Peter's review of a book by Jonathan Dimbleby about the battle of El Alamein, one of the decisive confrontations of WW2.  Link here:

http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/home/books/article-2221368/How-Monty-saw-wily-Fox-Destiny-In-The-Desert-By-Jonathan-Dimbleby.htmlI

 

In late May, there was a new spate of deaths on Everest.  As a respected mountaineering commentator, Peter was in demand to convey his views about the commercialisation of Everest and the risks run by those who pay large amounts of money to be escorted to the summit.  He was extensively quoted by the Daily Mail. Link here:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2149037/Mount-Everest-deaths-Thrill-hungry-amateurs-turning-summit-graveyard.html

 Peter also made an appearance in the Daily Telegraph:

 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/activityandadventure/9300192/Dying-to-get-there-the-perils-of-adventure-travel-a-middle-aged-obsession.html

 

In May, ITV1 broadcast a two-part documentary, Dirty Britain, that Peter worked on.   The documentary showed the fascinating and at times disturbing underbelly of life in Britain, focussing on the people whose work it is to clean up the mess we make in all aspects of our lives.  Peter was enlisted as script consultant and researcher when the film was in the editing suite, and he contributed a wide range of information and material to the final cut. 

Dirty Britain is another product of Paul Hamann's company Wild Pictures, which also made the Ostrava documentary described below.  Peter has worked with Paul Hamann on numerous projects over the years, including The Journey, Paul's sequel to his celebrated film Fourteen Days in May about a condemned prisoner on death row in Mississippi.   Peter conducted the field research in Mississippi, investigating allegations that the prisoner, Edward Earl Johnson, had been wrongly convicted and executed.   Dirty Britain was shown on Tuesday May 15 and 22.

 

In February 2012, we delivered three lectures for the Royal Scottish Geographical Society at venues in the Borders region of Scotland.  Titled Mallory in Scotland, the talks focussed on George Mallory's three climbing trips to Scotland in the years before he attempted Mount Everest.  Two of the trips were covered in our biography The Wildest Dream but the third was new.   As we discovered two years ago, Mallory  made an important visit to Ben Nevis at Easter 1906, when he and two companions climbed half a dozen routes on the daunting Orion Face on the north side of the mountain.  We conducted research to identify those routes by their modern names and we reported this in an article for the Alpine Journal, as well as in our talks. 

Our audiences, at Dumfries, Galashiels and Ayr, responded enthusiastically to our talks and we hope to return to other venues in Scotland during the 2012-2013 season. Peter has also been invited to give a shortened version of the talk at the annual dinner of the Scottish Mountaineering Club at Fort William in December.

 

On October 3 2011, ITV showed a hard-hitting documentary about a steel plant in the Czech Republic that contributes to dangerous levels of pollution in the city of Ostrava.  Titled "The Factory", it showed the plight of the local population and analysed the role of the plant, owned by Lakshmi Mittal, the richest man in Britain. Peter helped research the programme, visiting Ostrava in the early stages of production and acting as consultant as the programme was being edited.   The programme formed part of ITV's "Exposure" series, which takes on tough subjects and demonstrates that investigative television is alive and well.

 

 On May 29 2011, our article on shaken baby syndrome was published in the Sunday Times Magazine. Our investigation followed the case of Keran Henderson, a carer who was jailed for three years for allegedly shaking a baby to death and who, we are convinced, was innocent.  There is a link to the text of our article here:

Shaken babies Sunday Times

If you subscribe to the Sunday Times website, you can see the article with photos here:

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/Magazine/Features/article630748.ece

 

 

The Wildest Dream

Our book The Wildest Dream, a biography of Everest mountaineer George Mallory,  has been reissued in an updated paperback edition by Headline.   It contains substantial fresh material which includes a new appendix and a new introduction.

The book attracted widespread acclaim when it was first published in 2000, and it won that year's Boardman Tasker prize for mountain writing.  The new appendix describes a climbing expedition undertaken by George to Ben Nevis in 1906 which had escaped all previous Mallory biographers, including ourselves. 

The new introduction includes information about the IMAX movie of George's life, also called The Wildest Dream and released in September 2010, to which we were historical consultants.  Peter appears in the movie, describing the relationship between George and his wife Ruth.

The introduction also details how we coined the phrase "the wildest dream" from a passage in George's writing, where he described seeing Everest for the first time in 1921.   The producers of the movie asked our permission to call the film by the same name, and we readily agreed.  

The film follows the construct of our book, namely the conflict George felt between his love for his wife Ruth and his desire to climb Everest, culminating in his death on the mountain in 1924.  It is a superb production, full of drama and tension, with a gripping climax played out on Everest itself.

In view of all this, we were irritated to learn that another book is being promoted as the "book of the film".  Contrary to assurances we had previously been given, this too carries the title "The Wildest Dream".  

In view of this possible confusion, we would like to make it clear that ours was the original Wildest Dream and that it provided much of the inspiration for the movie.  At the IMAX premiere in London on September 21, producer Anthony Geffen praised our "wonderful" book.  We are pleased to record his tribute, and to put the record straight about the true Wildest Dream.   

 

The Wildest Dream - not

 George Mallory

October 2010 also saw the publication of the mountaineering writing of George Mallory in an edition produced by Gibson Square.  Mallory's mountaineering articles and reports had never been collected in one edition before, and Peter provided an introduction to the book.

 

 

Paul Eddy

In December 2009, Paul Eddy, one of the finest journalists of his generation, died following a stroke.  Paul and Peter had worked closely together at the Sunday Times in the Harold Evans era, particularly during a five-year spell on the Insight team. Both undertook the enquiry into the murder of David Holden, described in Harold Evans' memoir My Paper Chase (see item below).  Peter wrote a personal tribute to Paul which appeared in the Sunday Times on December 13.

 

 Paul Eddy - photo Brice Toul

 Paul Eddy

 


 

David Holden

 

In December 2009, Sir Harold Evans (above) published a new memoir about his life, including his editorship of the Sunday Times. The book, My Paper Chase, was serialised in the Sunday Times.  The first extract told the story of the murder of David Holden, the Sunday Times' chief foreign correspondent, in Cairo in December 1977. Peter Gillman, then on the staff at the Sunday Times, was one of the reporters dispatched to the Middle East to try to uncover the reasons for the murder.  He spent six months attempting to unravel the mystery, including two further trips to the Middle East and one with Leni to the USA, when they investigated Holden's American links. Peter wrote the 25,000-word internal report on which Harry Evans based much of his chapter on Holden, which was condensed for the Sunday Times extract.   You can read the extract, which refers to Peter's investigations in Beirut and Cairo, here:  

Beirut & Cairo Article

 

Maria McGuire

In December 2008, the Sunday Times published two articles about Maria McGuire, the former IRA gun-runner who - as Maria Gatland - became a Conservative councillor in the  London Borough of Croydon.

         

 

We had a hand in Maria's remarkable story. In 1972, Peter helped to write the memoir To Take Arms which was to lead to Maria's unmasking 36 years later. We also found her a safe house where she could stay while we were writing the book, and we introduced her to her future husband, Mervyn Gatland (pictured together above).

         

 

This story was told in two parts in the Sunday Times on December 14. The first part, carrying Maria's by-line, was written in partnership with Peter, like the original book (above). The second was by Peter.  Here is a link to Maria's article and a copy of Peter's.

To Take Arms Article

Peter's article in Sunday Times:

 

Harry Horse 

In June 2008, we made headlines with our article for the Sunday Times Magazine about the death of Harry Horse, the writer and artist based in Shetland.  Horse died was widely reported to have died in a poignant suicide pact with his wife Mandy in 2007.   Our article revealed the horrific truth.   Here is a link to an online version of the text:

Harry Horse

Here is a link to a report about our revelations in the Daily Mail

Harry Horse Article 2

   Our photo shows the couple's grave at Papil, Shetland 

Gordon Burn 

In July 2009, Peter claimed a footnote in literary history with a letter to the obituaries page of the Guardian, following the death of the writer Gordon Burn. 

Gordon Burn Obituary