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- 1898 - 1964
- A Natural History of North American Trees
A well-loved popularizer of the past generation proved, upon a re-reading of every word he ever wrote on birds, to have really very little to contribute about them. Again, some noted scientists do not appear here because a sympathetic and interested examination of their work discovered nothing of any length which they themselves, I believe, would have cared to lay down for comparison beside the accomplished style of Hudson or the rugged narratives of Coues.
Admittedly the literary gifts of the authors here gathered are unequal, as are their scientific attainments. But every one of them is in some sense an ornithologist and every one is a good writer. Not a few are two-fold geniuses. In the capacity of editor I have not disturbed the mannerisms of these diverse writers to attain consistency of punctuation, spelling, and capitalization. They wrote as they wrote, and I would not venture to begin changing them even to correct their grammar or to alter their scientific nomenclature with the current usage of taxonomy. I have, however, been obliged by space limitations to condense their essays.
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In doing this I have seldom abbreviated by cutting out individual words or phrases. Rather, I have omitted entire passages that were digressive or technical. The plan of the book has been to divide it somewhat equally between European birds, North American birds, and tropical or otherwise exotic species.
The order of arrangement is not chronological or geographical but, rather, stylistic, that the book may be read with a sense of modulated variety in the suite. In this I am aware that it would not be possible to satisfy all tastes. IN THE eighties of the last century a small discriminating group was discussing a novel, The Purple Land , of remarkable originality and charm. Of this man, William Henry Hudson, British ornithologists were still largely unaware until in he produced his Argentine Ornithology.
The systematics and anatomy were contributed by the well-known museum scientist, Prof. Sclater with whom Hudson got on rather badly. But the remarkable field notes and life histories were the work of this same indigent and obscure novelist. Again, the subject and setting were unfamiliar to most readers, refreshing, and exciting—the avifauna of the south temperate zone in the western hemisphere.
Here, it seemed, was indeed a New World, one about which most British and North American naturalists knew little and thought seldom. When in Hudson published his Naturalist in La Plata, a remarkable piece of popularization, his fame spread beyond the technical ornithologists to Nature lovers generally. A new voice was heard, as startling as the call of some unknown bird. Other reminiscences of Argentina followed, and then lovely studies of the modest and endearing bird life of English countryside and village.
And finally in Hudson returned, after lamentable failures in this line, to the novel form with Green Mansions, a book that slowly but surely made him famous and is today still widening in popularity.
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Of what other novels of that decade can as much be said? Possessed of unique powers as a narrator and stylist, Hudson came to Nature with a magnificent equipment to write of it. He deplored any biography, enjoined against one in his will, and carefully destroyed all documentary evidence he could find, insisting that his books speak for him.
His personality too was an enigma. His brother said of him, Of all the people I know, you are the only one I do not know. He so far created a mystery or even a deliberate legend about himself as to misrepresent his age and his nationality. William Henry Hudson was born an American. His mother came from Maine, his father Daniel from Marblehead.
Daniel Hudson emigrated to Argentina to become a ranchero in the state of Rio de Plata, and there, at Quilmes, in , was born the future naturalist. Of his romantic childhood Hudson continued to write all his life; those are the only years of which he cared to speak. Even so, he tells less about himself than about others and about the birds of Argentina, the crested screamers and woodhewers, mockingbirds, hummingbirds, rheas and Magellanic eagle owls, and above all his favorite plovers. They filled the world for him, the heavens and the plain and the marsh and the shore, with their cries and the beat of their wings.
They were for him the birds of home, and thirty years later he could still remember the forms and the flight and the songs and calls of some two hundred and fifty New World species—a larger number than was to be found in all Britain. Rheumatic fever fell early upon the boy, injuring his heart. A doctor informed his father that as the lad would only live a few years he might as well be allowed to do what he pleased.
So Hudson never completed his education or sought a training in ornithology, but divided his time between devouring English literature and descriptions of rural life in Britain, and spurring across the Patagonian plains in pursuit of birds. He lived among the gauchos and as one of them. Before Hudson left for England in he had seen sweeping changes cross the pampas.
The great prodigal estancias gave place to small landholdings, and the bird hating Italian race began to swarm and spawn there, supplanting the earlier settlers with a lower standard of living and another attitude toward the virginity of the continent.
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He left abruptly for England, never again to sit a horse, to know space, adventure, freedom from care. Yet, his life long, Argentina remcmbered, Argentina as it had been and could be again only in his memories, infused his greatest books with nostalgia. When he landed in England at Southampton, Hudson did not proceed at once to London but set forth determined to find the England of Jefferies and Constable.
He took a carriage and, with a young lout of a coachman, drove out in the country. The month was May and the glad bird chorus at its height, but to Hudson every British songster was as unfamiliar and as much a foreign bird as to most Englishmen are mynas and bulbuls. So he continually cried, What bird was that? To all of this he received but oafish answers. It is a tribute to the power of poetry that the birds of Europe have exercised such a sway over the minds of Americans and English colonials.
The avifauna of Britain is really small, both in variety of species and in respect to birds of impressive dimensions. It is in many ways modest, too, in plumage and utterance. Yet by the virtues of association, English bird life exerts a powerful pull even upon ornithologists of other lands justly proud of their avifauna. John Burroughs, for instance, and Dr. Frank Chapman, have both recorded their eagerness to hear and see English birds, and journeyed across the seas for the sake of nightingales and cuckoos, robins and skylarks.
The sweet and domestic charm of the European birds is something to which I can myself attest, and to the praise that better ornithologists have uttered of the robin I would add my own, just as I share their disappointment in the skylark. The new-come Hudson viewed nothing in British bird life with detachment. This was his adopted land, and he prepared to love every note and pinion. So he brought to his writings on European birds what no European can bring—a trained and adult capacity to understand and describe bird actions, coupled with an ear and eye fresh as that of a child.
But we cannot read this book without the occasional lump in our throats. The American elm was still alive when Peattie wrote, but as we read his account today we can see what caused its demise.
Audubon's portrait of a pair of loving passenger pigeons in an American beech is considered by many to be his greatest painting. It certainly touched the poet in Donald Culross Peattie as he depicted the extinction of the passenger pigeon when the beech forest was destroyed. The information is always interesting, though often heartbreaking.
While Peattie looks for the better side of human nature, he reports sorrowfully on the greed and waste that have doomed so much of America's virgin forest. But the chief delight is how he infuses his short portraits of tree species with the history of a nation. Flora of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties [notes]. Flowering Earth Forward the Nation French Flora. A Gathering of Birds The Green Book of Spring Wildflowers [unpublished]. A History of Children. Immortal Village [Vence] Journey into America The Kings Depart [unpublished].
Lives of Destiny [Introduction] Long Yesterday draft of A Prairie Grove. The Natural History of Kennicott's Grove. A Natural History of Western Trees The Nature of Things. Of the Grove. Parade with Banners A Prairie Grove The Rainbow Book of Nature Red Book of Summer Flowers [unpublished]. The Road of a Naturalist Sportsman's Country The Sylva of the Tryon Region. This Is Living Young Discoverers. American Acres Bitter Orange Blossoms script.
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The Californians A Child in Her Arms Ring Finger Tomorrow Is Ours Breath of Outdoors. Black and white prints and negatives, mainly family and travel unsorted, most in original envelopes. DCP - Breath of Outdoors copies of articles. Articles copies, from larger format magazines and newspapers. Family Materials including children's drawings and copies of school magazines. Record 78 rpm - "Skagway" [Alaska] Street Car, Department of Special Collections Davidson Library.
1898 - 1964
Creator 1: Peattie, Donald Culross, Creator 2: Peattie, Louise Redfield, Collection Size: 50 linear feet 40 boxes. Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Abstract: The bulk of the collection relates to the writings of Donald Culross Peattie, but there also is substantial material regarding Louise Redfield Peattie's writings.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained. Purchase and donation in several increments, mainly from the Peattie family, He grew up in Chicago and Omaha, where his father was a leading newspaper editor and his mother EWP became a well-known literary critic for the Chicago Tribune.
A Natural History of North American Trees
Several of her books were designed by Bruce Rogers. As a child, Peattie accompanied his mother to the Great Smokies region of western North Carolina, which he later described in his books Flowering Earth and Road of a Naturalist. It was at Tryon, North Carolina, that he began to discover the beauty of nature that was a dominant theme of his work.
Peattie first attended the University of Chicago, studying French, but a tramp along the Appalachian Trail, together with a visit to the famous 'glass flowers' at Harvard, convinced him that his future lay in science. He talked his way into Harvard as a student of botany and graduated cum laude in Following Harvard, Peattie began his career with the U.
Department of Agriculture, working in the Division of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction, under the leadership of the brilliant plantsman and explorer David Fairchild. Fairchild perceived his divided loyalties as plantsman and writer, and encouraged him to seek horizons other than the world of botanical exploration.
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In they moved to the southern part of France, where they lived for five years and produced several books.