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The introductory section of this book about William E. Beckwith gives an account of the man, his life and times, giving a context for his work. He had independent means and was able to devote much of his life to the study of the biological world, especially birds. The text gives an account of his family background and the social and ornithological settings of the late nineteenth century and the state of the natural environment at the time. He apparently kept no diary and the information is drawn from the public record, his printed word and what they tell of his feld-work, travels, correspondents and library.
The major section of the book is the reproduction of all Beckwith’s known short notes and extended papers, published between 1867 and 1893 on the subject of the birds of Shropshire bringing them together between two covers for the frst time. Most signifcant were his second and greatly expanded series of nine Notes on the Birds of Shropshire, published in the Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society between 1887 and 1893, the fnal element posthumously. This last series was the culmination of all his previous work and what would have become the backbone of his planned Birds of Shropshire. However he died on 1 July 1892 aged 48 having completed around a half of the species accounts needed for the book.
The book is illustrated with woodcut illustrations by the celebrated Thomas Bewick and will therefore appear very much as it would had Beckwith completed it himself more than a century ago.