Edmund Hillary was born on July 20, 1919, in Auckland, New Zealand, and raised in Tuakau, a rural town 40 miles south of Auckland. His parents were very strict, keeping him and his brother and sister constantly busy with schoolwork and house chores. Despite his father's rigid ways, Edmund learned very important life lessons from him, like working hard at being self-sufficient.

When he was 11 years old, Edmund attended a new school. In his first week there, the gym teacher took one look at skinny Edmund, and sent him to a class for uncoordinated boys. Little did he know that this boy would one day climb to the top of the world! Even as a youngster, however, one of Edmund's great passions was losing himself in adventure stories. His hero was a very famous mountaineer and author named Eric Shipton.

Hillary as a child. Source: June Carlile
Photo: June Carlile