RE: Books and famous persons

To: "'John Layton'" <>
Subject: RE: Books and famous persons
From: "Geoffrey Dabb" <>
Date: Sun, 1 Oct 2006 16:18:43 +1000

John  -  Your comment below about Theodore Roosevelt put me in mind of the following.


Lord Alanbrooke, chief of the British armed forces through most of WW2, was a keen birdwatcher, in fact one of the celebrity ‘watchers of a previous generation who no doubt lent prominence to the activity.  In his book A bird in the bush: a social history of birdwatching Stephen Moss says that in the crucial relationship between Alanbrooke and Eisenhower there was a ‘touch of formality’, and that warmth was given to the relationship when E learnt that A was anxious, but unable, to get a copy off the US book A Book of Birds, and E had a copy of the book obtained and flown across the Atlantic for presentation to A.


Coincidentally, Alanbrooke, before he was created baron in 1945, had been Alan Brooke.  Most of the paintings in The Book of Birds , including the one on the pages from the book below, were by Alan Brooks, a retired Canadian army officer, not connected with Alan Brooke






This was a formative stage in bird art.  Roger Tory Peterson, pioneer of the modern bird field guide, had published his own first guide in the early 1930s, about the same time as appearance of the ‘Book of Birds’.  In a summary of the history of field guide art, Peterson later wrote of Brooks:  “On the whole paintings by Brooks are more lush than those by Fuertes, but his birds are not as sensitively understood …  At times his handling of backgrounds was very successful, especially when portraying the coniferous forests and mountains of the northwest he knew so well.  His southwestern swamps are not as convincing … Brooks often gave small birds an unnatural fullness at the nape of the neck, and frequently made them too large-headed and small-tailed.”


In the 1950s Alanbrooke accompanied Peterson to southern Spain where they were both ‘cinematographers’ on the expeditions organized by Guy Mountfort.  In Mountfort’s Portrait of a Wilderness, there is an incongruous photo of Lord Alanbrooke in a bowler hat peering through a ‘cinecamera’, looking like a seedy private detective collecting evidence.


I’ll copy this to the list.  Someone else might be interested.



From: John Layton [
Sent: Saturday, September 30, 2006 8:29 PM
To: Geoffrey Dabb
Subject: Books and famous persons



Did you know that man-among-men, American president, Theodore Roosevelt, admired W-in-W so much that he helped to get it published in America? When the old Teddy Bear visited Oxford, Grahame was one of the "great British authors" he particularly asked to meet.



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