Gerald Durrell was born in Jamshedpur, India, in 1925. In 1928 his family returned to England and in 1933 they went to live on the Continent. Eventually they settled on the island of Corfu, where they lived until 1939. During this time he made a special study of zoology, and kept a large number of the local wild animals as pets. In 1945 he joined the staff at Whipsnade Park as a student keeper. In 1947 he financed, organized, and led his first animal-collecting expedition to the Cameroons. This was followed by a second expedition in 1948 and a third in 1949, this time to British Guiana. He has also made expeditions to Paraguay, Argentina and Sierra Leone. In 1962 he and his wife went to New Zealand, Australia and Malaya to film a TV series Two in the Bush, in conjunction with the BBC Natural History Film Unit. In 1958 he founded the Jersey Zoological Park, of which he is the director, and in 1964 he founded the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust. Gerald Durrell’s other books include
The Overloaded Ark, The Bafut Beagles, Encounters With Animals, The Drunken Forest, Three Singles to Adventure, A Zoo in My Luggage, The Whispering Land, Menagerie Manor, Birds, Beasts and Relatives, Fillets of Plaice, Catch Me a Colobus, Beasts in My Belfry, The Talking Parcel, The Stationary Ark (1976) and Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons (1977).
It is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry contemplation of my travels, which, by often rumination, wraps me in a most humorous sadness.
The Speech for the Defence.
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
The White Queen – Alice Through the Looking-Glass This is the story of a five-year sojourn that I and my family made on the Greek island of Corfu. It was originally intended to be a mildly nostalgic account of the natural history of the island, but I made a grave mistake by introducing my family into the book in the first few pages. Having got themselves on paper, they then proceeded to establish themselves and invite various friends to share the сhapters. It was only with the greatest difficulty, and by exercising considerable cunning, that I managed to retain a few pages here and there which I could devote exclusively to animals.
I have attempted to draw an accurate and unexaggerated picture of my family in the following pages; they appear as I saw them. To explain some of their more curious ways, however, I feel that I should state that at the time we were in Corfu the family were all quite young: Larry, the eldest, was twentythree; Leslie was nineteen; Margo eighteen; while I was the youngest, being of the tender and impressionable age of ten. We have never been very certain of
My mother’s age, for the simple reason that she can never remember her date of birth; all I can say is that she was old enough to have four children. My mother also insists that I explain that she is a widow for, as she so penetratingly observed, you never know what people might think. In order to compress five years of incident, observation, and pleasant
Living into something a little less lengthy than the Encyclopaedia Britannica, I have been forced to telescope, prune, and graft, so that there is little left of the original continuity of events. Also I have been forced to leave out many happenings and characters that I would have liked to describe.
It is doubtful if this would have been written without the help and enthusiasm of the following people.