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Kearton Book Collection

The Keartons

Richard and Cherry Kearton were brothers from Thwaite, Swaledale, born in 1862 and 1871 respectively. They became famous as pioneers of wildlife photography with images of birds' eggs and nests, and developed solutions to the problems of such photography, especially the use of hides. Among the titles they published together: Birds' Nests, Eggs and Egg-collecting (1890), Our Bird Friends (1900), and Wild Nature's Ways (1903). With Nature and a Camera (1897) featured the astonishing bird life of St Kilda and other Scottish islands.

The brothers took different professional paths, though both continued to popularise the study of nature. Richard built a career writing and lecturing, using lantern slides. Some later works: Wonders of Wild Nature (1915), and At Home with Wild Nature (1922), and his autobiography, A Naturalist's Pilgrimage, (1926). He died in 1928.

Cherry took to motion photography. He travelled the world filming wildlife, particularly in Africa. He made an early “talkie” in 1913, and during the First World War, he filmed on the Western Front. Cherry published many popular books about his travels including In the Land of the Lion (1929), I Visit the Antipodes (1937), The Island of Penguins (1930), and others about individual animals such as My Friend Toto (1925) and My Dog Simba (1926). 1935's Adventures with Animals and Men included details of his development as a photographer. Cherry died in 1940.

Read their story and enjoy their amazing photos in Wild Nature's Ways, number 29 of our 100 Objects exhibition.

Our Collections

Special Collections holds editions of all the above titles, and many more. Most volumes were donated by Dr W.R. Mitchell. All appear on the Library catalogue.

Also in Special Collections, the W. R. Mitchell Archive includes correspondence and other material collected by Dr Mitchell when writing his book about the brothers, Watch the Birdie! (2001).

More about the Keartons