Dr Pat Morris was Senior Lecturer in Zoology at Royal Holloway, University of London, until taking early retirement in 2002. There he taught generations of students, many of whom have gone on to work in biology and conservation as a result. He is best known for his studies on hedgehogs over the last 40 years. He has also studied water voles, bats, edible dormice and red squirrels, managing a major research and conservation programme on hazel dormice for 'English Nature', the British Government's principal conservation agency. He is a past Chairman of the Mammal Society and holder of its Silver Medal. He is a Council member of the National Trust and (for 6 years) Chairman of its Nature Conservation Advisory Panel. He was a Vice President of the London Wildlife Trust, and is a member of two other county wildlife trusts, the RSPB, various other Natural History and conservation organisations and Honorary Life Member of the Guild of Taxidermists. For 3 years he was co-Director of the International Summer School on the Breeding and Conservation of Endangered species, based at Jersey Zoo. In September 2000 he was appointed President of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and is a key scientific advisor to the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species.
Pat Morris has published over 80 scientific papers, mostly about mammals. He has also written books on bats, dormice, hedgehogs and (with his wife) the natural history of lakes. He was consultant for the Reader's Digest Nature Lover's Library volume on British Mammals, and a consultant for the partworks 'Wildlife of Britain' and 'The Living Countryside', as well as a contributor to many other natural history books and magazines. He is a popular lecturer on various aspects of natural history and for many years contributed to radio programmes for the BBC and helped to make the TV films 'The Great Hedgehog Mystery' and 'The Incredible Edible Dormouse'. He has travelled all over the world, including 5 expeditions to Ethiopia and 19 visits to the USA, covering 47 states.
In his spare time he has pursued a longstanding interest in the history of taxidermy and has published papers and 8 books on this topic. On the recommendation of the Guild of Taxidermists, he has been appointed one of DEFRA's taxidermy inspectors for the purpose of assessing age and authenticity of antique taxidermy. In 2012 he was awarded the Founder's Medal by the Society for the History of Natural History.
Pat Morris on Walter Potter...
Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy is an attempt to collate what little is known about the man himself and to provide a permanent record of the museum and its contents before they were sold and became widely dispersed.
My own first visit to Potter's Museum of Curiosity was with my parents in about 1955, when I wandered about entranced but also obnoxiously identifying sundry unlabelled specimens. I was very struck by the multi-legged kittens and the plunging albatross in the roof and the whole clutter of the place, inviting endless investigation and promising fresh discoveries of all sorts of unexpected and curious things. My father tried to persuade the custodian that I should be appointed as a consultant to the museum, an offer that was gently declined (perhaps because I was still in short trousers at the time). It is an amusing irony that I actually achieved that status over a quarter of a century later when my wife and I began to visit the museum, by then in Cornwall, to advise its new owners on maintenance and upkeep.
So my association with Walter Potter and his collection began with a typical family visit and continued for over fifty years as a periodic visitor, advisor and latterly as owner of some of the most characteristic items, including the Death of Cock Robin tableau, Potter's first bird, his first canary, his cat and 'Spot' the dog, along with the multi-legged kitten that had captured my imagination so vividly all those years before.
For more information please visit: www.walterpottertaxidermy.com