Arthur Loveridge Obituary Written by Ernest Williams

loveridgeArthur Loveridge was one of the great scholars of African herpetology, and a fascinating individual, curator of the Museum of Comparative Zoology for 33 years. AA has recently come across a pdf of his obituary written by Ernest Williams, who succeeded him at the MCZ.

The obituary is fascinating not only because it details the career of an important, yet quirky, individual in our field, but also marks how the profession of museum curator has changed markedly from the days in which curators were wealthy amateurs, popping around to satisfy their curiosity. Of course, I’m sure Loveridge’s sentiments would find happy agreement today: “Probably only a zoologist can look at an uncaught cobra and feel the joy a child feels on Christmas morning.”

The paper’s worth reading for the various stories about the “Demon Curator,” including the drawer labelled “string too short to use” and the famous footnote in the 1957 Loveridge and Williams turtle monograph.


About Jonathan Losos

Professor and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. I've spent my entire professional career studying anoles and have discovered that the more I learn about anoles, the more I realize I don't know.

7 thoughts on “Arthur Loveridge Obituary Written by Ernest Williams

  1. Fascinating read. I happy to say that my Y-chromosome reached the United States via the Laconia in the same year as Loveridge.

  2. As Arthur Loveridge was my great-uncle I was fascinated by the insightful obituary of him that you have just published. For your information I am currently editing two as-yet unpublished books written by Arthur Loveridge and these should be published on the internet end-2014 and early 2015. Also, my brother holds Arthur Loveridge’s detailed diaries.

    1. I was delighted to come across this post. I knew Loveridge’s name from working on African molluscs, but had no idea that not only did he work at this Museum, but was actually from South Wales (rather than England as his book jackets suggest). If John Loveridge would like to get in touch about his great-uncle’s links to Wales, I would be pleased to hear from him via our website.

      1. Hello Ben. Having completed my family genealogy back to 1542 there are not many questions about my family that I cannot answer! As for Arthur L, as you know, he was born in 1891 in Llandaff (now part of Cardiff), South Wales, to which town his family moved in 1866 when his father bought a business (soon to be known as Loveridge Ltd) in Cardiff. Arthur left Llandaff at the age of 21 to go to the herpetological section of the University of Manchester. However, as for his early years in Llandaff, it is best to read his first book “Many Happy Days I’ve Squandered”. I have a photograph of Arthur aged 15 holding a frog in his hand! John

    2. My mother, who was chairman of Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard, introduced me to your great uncle when I was eight and budding herpetologist. We would sit in his office, spreading lettuce and strawberries on the floor for the pleasure of our gopher tortoises, and he would talk to me about African gecko taxonomy. It was a sad day for me when he retired to Saint Helena. He left me with his extensive files on African geckoes which unfortunately have been lost in my many moves. Recently a journal editor suggested I might write something about reptiles and I began to read on line about Arthur Loveridge who had made such a mark on an impressionable child. Surely then I was unaware of the complexity of the man and the breadth of his contributions. I only knew I liked the hours I spent in his office. Today I’m a retired physician, but my years with reptiles and amphibians played some part in my development as a scientist.

  3. Hello John – I seem to have dogged ylour Uncle’s footsteps, albeit two generations removed. Louis Leakey was my mentor as a school boy in the holidays when I worked with him at the Museum. I later worked at the Museum erecting Ahmed’s articulated skeleton. Many years later I spent time in the BMNH library, a table away from Charles Pitman, writing up my own PhD, and then most recently spent three years on St Helena. It was intriguing to read in his Wirebird accounts earlier information on the Island natural history, and I have just collated these into a booklet of whuch you are welcome to a copy if required? I am confused that his wife’s memorial tablet on the island reads Mary, whereas in Tanganyika Tell Tale she is “Queenie”? I guess I may understand better after reading the book. With best wishes – Chris Hillman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)