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Walter Rothschild: The Man, The Museum, and the Menagerie

Biography / Memoir

By: Dame Miriam Rothschild(Author)

417 pages, 32 plates with 60 b/w photos, b/w illustrations

Frances Lincoln Ltd

Paperback | Feb 2008 | #171752 | ISBN-13: 9780565092283
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £12.99 $18/€15 approx

About this book

Born into what was one of the wealthiest families in the world, Walter Rothschild became the best known zoologist of his day – and one of Britain's great eccentrics. A benign and enigmatic figure with a boundless enthusiasm for nature, he amassed the largest accumulation of zoological specimens ever collected by one man, establishing his own private Museum in 1892, now the Natural History Museum at Tring.

Walter's extraordinary life traversed the fields of politics and finance, as well as zoology, and was packed with both achievement and incident. From his involvement with the Balfour Declaration to his prodigious personal scientific output, Walter's life was anything but commonplace. He went up to Cambridge accompanied by a flock of kiwi, drove a team of zebra down Piccadilly and into the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, and was a victim of blackmail for many years.

With the help of evocative photographs Miriam Rothschild has produced a compelling narrative which, while demonstrating her personal admiration and affection for her uncle, does not shy away from the complexities and conflicts this remarkable man faced during his life.


Preface to this edition v
Author's Preface vii
Author's Acknowledgements viii
Lionel Walter Rothschild – principal events xi

1 Walter Rothschild 1
2 Tring is Fairyland 3
3 Emma, Walter's Mother 9
4 Emma – the iron apronstrings 19
5 Walter's Father – the Eminence Blanche 25
6 Walter's Father – Nobody wanted to touch Lloyd George 41
7 Because I am so happy, Mama 52
8 I have nearly driven Althaus out of his senses 57
9 Who is the pink and gold boy in the corner? 70
10 I am not a Lieutenant, I am a Captain 80
11 Please ask Walter 86
12 Rozsika, Walter's sister-in-law 94
13 My Museum 100
14 The rump of our only old male is rather dicky ... 110
15 The fellow is always right 120
16 Walter's Curators – Ernst Hartert and the birds 128
17 Walter's Curators – Karl Jordan and the butterflies 143
18 Walter's Collectors 154
19 Walter's Collectors – A.F.R. Wollaston and N.C. Rothschild 170
20 Walter's Collectors – William Doherty 177
21 Walter's Collectors – The King of Bulgaria is coming on Friday ... 181
22 Hurrah! We are off ... 185
23 The Giants 197
24 The Rothschilds and animals 206
25 The Great Row 215
26 Catherine wheels 224
27 If His Majesty's Government will send me a message ... 233
28 Dear Lord Rothschild 249
29 What has become of two ostriches ... 270
30 A figure in the background 283
31 You will be painted blue and yellow and exposed in the High Street 287
32 The Primrose Way – The truth about the Rothschilds 295
33 The birds cross the Atlantic 302
34 Home Farm 305
35 Candle ends 313

Bibliographical notes 319
Books 351
Newspapers, Journals, Catalogues and Reports 356
Manuscript Sources 362

Appendix 1: Synopsis of species and subspecies of plants and animals named inhonour of Walter Rothschild 362
Index 363
Family trees 383

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Miriam Rothschild was the niece of Walter Rothschild and, a renowned naturalist herself, shared her uncle's passion for the natural world. In 1995 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and was made a Dame in 2000. Dame Miriam died in 2005.

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