‘Can you help Gerald Durrell’s family document his life?’

Bournemouth photos from ‘Whatever Happened to Margo?’

This week, the Bournemouth Echo is running an appeal by Lee Durrell, Gerald Durrell‘s widow, asking for information on Gerald’s life in Bournemouth.

Together with Gerald’s nephew (Margo’s son) Gerry Breeze, Lee is organizing an exhibition on Jersey about Gerald’s Bournemouth days. The text of the Echo story is below, plus a link to the site. Anyone with information is invited to email Echo reporter Faith Eckersall, whose email address is given at the end of the piece.

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‘In the world of animals’ – Durrell in Russia

In 1984, when Gerald and Lee Durrell visited the then-USSR to film their 13-part documentary, Durrells in Russia, the words ‘Soviet Union’ and ‘wildlife’ were rarely, if ever, spoken in the same sentence (except perhaps ‘when I think of the Soviet Union, I don’t think of its wildlife’). Durrell’s visit to the USSR was groundbreaking – here was a British man who appeared on a popular Soviet TV show, V Mire Zhivotnikh (‘In the World of Animals’), but more than that, here was a British man who was already popular in Russia.

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Photos from 1957 Bafut expedition, Cameroons

In 1957, LIFE magazine despatched a photographer, Howard Sochurek, to photograph Gerald Durrell during his expedition to Bafut in the Cameroons. The expedition came not long after the publication of  My Family and Other Animals in 1956, which became an instant hit – and of course the public were already aware of Durrell and his previous Cameroons adventures from his previous books, The Overloaded Ark and The Bafut Beagles.

Jacquie Durrell accompanied Gerald on this trip, as did his secretary, Sophie Cook, and a young aspiring naturalist, 18-year-old Robert Golding.

Gerald found the Cameroons had changed somewhat since his previous animal-catching expedition, and ran into difficulties with the British Administration, whom Jacquie wrote were:

“not at all pleased to have Gerry back in the country. They wagged a finger at him and tore him off a strip for writing about the Fon the way he had done in the Bafut Beagles, presenting a paramount chief as a carousing black clown who spoke comic pidgin English.”

While Gerald thought the Fon might be angry about his depiction in the Bafut Beagles, he turned out to be delighted. “You done make my name go round the world,” he said.

Here are some of the photos, from the LIFE archive, as digitalized by Google.

Gerald with the Fon

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