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Peter Scott

Sir Peter Markham Scott, CH, CBE, DSC, FRS, FZS, (September 14, 1909August 29, 1989) was a British ornithologist, conservationist, painter, naval officer and sportsman.

Life history

Early life

Scott was born in London, on the the only child of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott, who died when Peter was three years old. He famously left instructions to his wife, sculptor Kathleen Bruce, to "try and make the boy interested in natural history if you can". His mother remarried and had another child, Wayland Young (Lord Kennet). Scott's godfather was Peter Pan creator J. M. Barrie. He was educated at Oundle School and Trinity College, Cambridge, initially reading Natural Sciences but graduating in the History of Art in 1931.

Success in art

He inherited his artistic talent from his mother and had his first exhibition in London in 1933. His wealthy background allowed him to follow his interests in art, wildlife and many sports, including sailing and ice skating. In 1936, he represented Great Britain and Northern Ireland at sailing in the Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal.

Second World War

During World War II, Scott served in the Royal Navy, emulating his father. He served first in destroyers in the North Atlantic but later moved to commanding the First (and only) Squadron of Steam Gun Boats against German E-boats in the English Channel. He is also partly credited with designing 'shadow camouflage', which disguised the look of ship superstructure. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery.

Post war life

He stood as a Conservative candidate unsuccessfully in the 1945 general election in Wembley North. In 1948, he founded the organisation with which he was ever afterwards closely associated, the Severn Wildfowl Trust (now the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) with its headquarters at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire. In the years that followed, he led several ornithological expeditions worldwide, and became a television personality, popularising the study of wildfowl and wetlands. His BBC natural history series, Look, ran from 1955 to 1981 and made him a household name. He wrote and illustrated several books on the subject, including his autobiography, The Eye of the Wind (1961). In the 1950s, he also appeared regularly on BBC radio's Children's Hour, in the series, "Nature Parliament".

He married Elizabeth Jane Howard in 1942. A daughter, Nicola, was born a year later. They divorced in 1951 and he married an assistant, Philippa Talbot-Ponsonby, while on an expedition to Iceland in search of the breeding grounds of the Pink-footed Goose. A daughter, Dafila, was born later in the same year. (Dafila is the old scientific name for a pintail). She, too, is now an artist, painting birds

Scott took up gliding in 1956 and became a British champion in 1963. He was chairman of the British Gliding Association (BGA) for two years from 1968 and was president of the Bristol & Gloucestershire Gliding Club. He was responsible for involving Prince Philip in gliding; the Prince is still patron of the BGA.

Scott also continued with his love of sailing, skippering the 12 metre yacht Sovereign in the 1964 challenge for the America's Cup which was held by USA. Sovereign suffered a whitewash 4-0 defeat in a very one-sided competition where the American boat was seen to be the faster design.

From 1973 to 1983, Scott was Chancellor of the University of Birmingham. This was his final notable occupation, as he died six years later just before what would have been his 80th birthday.

World Wide Fund for Nature

He was one of the founders of the World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly called the World Wildlife Fund), and designed its panda logo. His pioneering work in conservation also contributed greatly to the shift in policy of the International Whaling Commission and signing of the Antarctic Treaty. The latter inspired by his visit to his father's base on Ross Island in Antarctica.

Loch Ness Monster

He is also remembered for giving the scientific name of Nessiteras rhombopteryx (based on a blurred underwater photograph of a supposed fin) to the Loch Ness Monster so that it could be registered as an endangered species. The name was based on the Ancient Greek for "the wonder of Ness with the diamond shaped fin", but it was later pointed out to be an anagram of "Monster hoax by Sir Peter S".
In 1962, he co-founded the Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau with the then Conservative MP David James, who had previously been Polar Advisor on the classic 1948 movie based on his late father's doomed polar expedition Scott of the Antarctic.

British Naturalists' Association

Scott was a long-time Vice-President of the British Naturalists' Association, whose Peter Scott Memorial Award was instituted after his death, to commemorate his achievements.

Television documentaries and other cultural references

In June 2004, Scott and Sir David Attenborough were jointly profiled in the second of a three part BBC Two series, The Way We Went Wild, about television wildlife presenters and were described as being largely responsible for the way that the British and much of the world views wildlife.

Scott's life was also the subject of a BBC Four documentary called "Peter Scott - A Passion for Nature" produced in 2006 by Available Light Productions, Bristol.

Scott also appears as a minor character in the novel The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams. His fictional alter ego assists in rescuing the protagonists from their final peril.

Notes

Bibliography

  • Morning flight. Country Life, London 1936-44.
  • Wild chorus. Country Life, London 1939.
  • The battle of the narrow seas. Country Life, White Lion & Scribners, London, New York 1945-74. ISBN 0-856-17788-1
  • Portrait drawings. Country Life, London 1949.
  • Key to the wildfowl of the world. Slimbridge 1950.
  • Wild geese and Eskimos. Country Life & Scribner, London, New York 1951.
  • A thousand geese. Collins, Houghton & Mifflin, London, Boston 1953/54.
  • A coloured key to the wildfowl of the world. Royle & Scribner, London, New York 1957-88.
  • Wildfowl of the British Isles. Country Life, London 1957.
  • The eye of the wind. (autobiography) Hodder, Stoughton & Brockhampton, London, Leicester 1961-77. ISBN 0-340-04052-1, ISBN 0-340-21515-1
  • Animals in Africa. Potter & Cassell, New York, London 1962-65.
  • My favourite stories of wild life. Lutterworth 1965.
  • Our vanishing wildlife. Doubleday, Garden City 1966.
  • Happy the man. Sphere, London 1967.
  • Atlas en couleur des anatidés du monde. Le Bélier-Prisma, Paris 1970.
  • The wild swans at Slimbridge. Slimbridge 1970.
  • The swans. Joseph, Houghton & Mifflin, London, Boston 1972. ISBN 0-718-10707-1
  • The amazing world of animals. Nelson, Sunbury-on-Thames 1976. ISBN 0-171-49046-0
  • Observations of wildlife. Phaidon & Cornell, Oxford, Ithaca 1980. ISBN 0-714-82041-5, ISBN 0-714-82437-2, ISBN 0-801-41341-9
  • Travel diaries of a naturalist. Collins, London 1983. ISBN 0-002-17707-2, ISBN 0-002-19232-2, ISBN 0-002-19554-2
  • The crisis of the University. Croom Helm, London 1984. ISBN 0-709-93303-7, ISBN 0-709-93310-X
  • Conservation of island birds. Cambridge 1985. ISBN 0-946-88804-3
  • The art of Peter Scott. Sinclair-Stevenson, London 1992 p. m. ISBN 1-856-19100-1

Forewords

  • George Edward Lodge - Unpublished Bird Paintings C.A. Fleming (Michael Joseph) 1983 ISBN 0718122127

External links

ro: Peter Scott

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