(Written by Dave) We just received a shipment of F&Gs for Lita’s next book—Strange Creatures: The Story of Walter Rothschild and his Museum. This book is with Disney-Hyperion Books and is scheduled for release on Feb 1st, 2011.
Here’s a short description of Walter’s story:
Walter was born in 1868 and was the son of Lady Emma and Lord Nathan Rothschild. The Rothschilds were a family of bankers and Walter was expected to someday take over the bank. But Walter wasn’t interested in the bank. Instead, he loved every creature that crawled, slithered or flew. He began collecting bugs and butterflies at the age of seven. The family also knew explorers who traveled the world to bring back animals for the London Zoo, and soon Walter started collecting more exotic creatures like kangaroos and kiwis. From there his collection grew and grew, until it threatened to take over the Rothschild estate. Lord Rothschild eventually lost patience with Walter’s hobby and insisted that Walter become a banker, like everyone else in the family. Reluctantly, Walter obeyed, but his dream couldn’t be dimmed.
Eventually Walter created the largest zoological collection gathered by one man and was respected throughout the world for his contribution to science. He wrote 1200 books and scientific papers and named 5000 new species. Animals that now bear the name Rothschild include butterflies, fish, a millipede, a fly, a lizard, a porcupine, a wallaby, a bird of paradise, and even a giraffe. The painfully shy boy who never made a good banker forever changed our understanding of the world’s diversity of creatures.
Lita actually has a strange connection to Walter. Lita’s grandparents, Fran and Frederick Hamerstrom, were ornithologists who cared for birds of prey. One of their scientific mentors was Ernst Mayr, who began his career on an expedition collecting for Walter Rothschild. Later he became curator of Rothschild’s collection of birds, now housed in New York’s American Museum of Natural History.
The picture above is Ernst Mayr with Sario, one of his Malay assistants, in the former Dutch New Guinea in June 1928. The picture below is Lita at Walter Rothschild’s Tring Museum in June 2009.
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