First published in 1956, The Ascent of Rum Doodle quickly became a mountaineering classic. As an outrageously funny spoof about the ascent of a peak in the Himalayas, many thought it was inspired by the 1953 conquest of Everest. But Bowman had drawn on the flavour and tone of earlier adventures, of Bill Tilman and his 1937 account of the Nandi Devi expedition. The book’s central and unforgettable character, Binder, is one of the finest creations in comic literature.
W.E. Bowman (1912–1985) was a civil engineer who spent his free time hill-walking, painting and writing (unpublished) books on the Theory of Relativity.
"Wonderful. Rum Doodle does for mountaineering what Three Men in a Boat did for Thames-going or Catch-22 did for the Second World War. It is simply an account of the leader of an expedition up Rum Doodle, a 40,000 and a half foot peak in the Himalayas, in the same way that Scoop is simply a tale about newsgathering in Africa. The tone is nearer to Pooter than anyone else I can think of, but the flavour is all W.E. Bowman's own."
"This wonderfully funny parody of adventure stories was first written in the 1950s but is just as fresh today with a truly brilliant comic narrator whose commentary on the expedition members is unintentionally hilarious."
"This gentle, deadly parody of the tight-arsed old school of British exploration narratives is seemingly a cult book among mountaineers, but it has been virtually unknown to the reading public since its first publication in 1956. "