Gerald Durrell was born in India in 1925. His family settled on Corfu when he was a boy and he spent his time studying its wildlife. He relates these experiences in the trilogy beginning with My Family and Other Animals, and continuing with Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods. He writes with wry humour and great perception about both the humans and the animals he meets.
On leaving Corfu, Durrell returned to England to work at Whipsnade Park as a student keeper. His adventures there are told with characteristic energy in Beasts in My Belfry. A few years later, he began organizing his own animal-collecting expeditions. The first, to the Cameroons, was followed by expeditions to Paraguay, Argentina and Sierra Leone. He recounts these experiences in a number of books including The Drunken Forest. He also visited many countries while shooting various television series.
In 1959 Durrell realized a lifelong dream when he set up the Jersey Zoological Park, followed a few years later by the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, renamed the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in 1999.
Whether in a factual account of an expedition or a work of non-fiction, Durrell’s style is exuberant, passionate and acutely observed. Gerald Durrell died in 1995.
When the unconventional Durrell family can no longer endure the damp, gray English climate, they do what any sensible family would do: sell their house and relocate to the sunny Greek isle of Corfu. My Family and Other Animals was intended to embrace the natural history of the island but ended up as a delightful account of Durrell’s family’s experiences, from the many eccentric hangers-on to the ceaseless procession of puppies, toads, scorpions, geckoes, ladybugs, glowworms, octopuses, bats, and butterflies into their home.
Rosy, the elephant bequeathed to young Adrian Rookwhistle by a reprobate relative, turns out to be a handful; not only because of her size but also because of her fondness for strong drink. To Adrian she represents the chance to get away from a city shop and a suburban lodging by exploiting her theatrical talent and experience. To Rosy their progress towards the gayer South Coast resorts offers undreamed-of opportunities for drink and destruction.
So the Monkspepper Hunt is driven to delirium and Lady Fenneltree’s stately home reduced to a shambles. In due course the constabulary catches up with the pair, whose ensuing trial is a triumph of the law and of Rosy’s enormous charm. The verdict is—but then the story has to be read to be believed, if then.
In spite of all this the author firmly maintains that his first novel is entirely credible, further that it is “an almost true story”!
Gerald Durrell (1925–95) moved from England to Corfu with his family when he was eight. He immediately became fascinated by the island’s natural history and spent much of his time studying the local wildlife and keeping numerous, and often unusual, pets. He grew up to be a famous naturalist, animal-collector, and conservationist.
Durrell dedicated his life to the conservation of wildlife and it is through his efforts that creatures such as the Mauritius pink pigeon and the Mallorcan midwife toad have avoided extinction. Over his lifetime he wrote thirty-seven books, went on dozens of animal-collecting trips and presented numerous tv shows. He founded the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in 1959 as a centre for the conservation of endangered species – of which his wife Lee is still Honorary Director. He was awarded the OBE in 1982.
The Corfu Trilogy
My Family and Other Animals
Birds, Beasts, and Relatives
The Garden of the Gods
Fans of Gerard Durrell’s beloved classic My Family and Other Animals and other accounts of his lifelong fascination with members of the animal kingdom will rejoice at The Whispering Land. The sequel to A Zoo in My Luggage, this is the story of how Durrell and his wife’s zoo-building efforts at England’s Jersey Zoo led them and a team of helpers on an eight- month safari in Argentina to look for South American specimens. Through windswept Patagonian shores and tropical forests in Argentina, from ocelots to penguins, fur seals to parrots, Durrell captures the landscape and its inhabitants with his signature charm and humor.