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Friday, October 22, 2010

Thomas Edward

One of the treasured books in my collection is a nice leather-bound copy of Life of a Scotch Naturalist by Samuel Smiles. It is an 1877 Second Edition with a school prize label as presented to A. N. Jack from Merchant Taylors' School, Crosby. His widow was an old friend of my family and who had been the school matron at Highgate School - my old alma mater. Mr Jack had been a champion oarsman in his day and I remember seeing in her home a cut section from a rowing eight. Anyway! I was given the book by her many decaded ago, presumably because of my interest in natural history.
Thomas Edward led a simple but hard life in Banff a village on the shore of the Moray Firth in North East Scotland. He was a cobbler by trade, a simple shoe mender, but every spare moment he devoted to exploring and studying the wildlife of the area. He collected specimens of the many species which he found in the sea and on land.
The book, written to encourage diligence and assiduity - suitable attributes for school pupils of the late Victorian age.