A Curious Boy
by Richard Fortey
In this memoir, Richard Fortey – a palaeontologist and natural historian – tells the story of how as a young boy he became fascinated with the natural world, leading to a long life exploring its secrets.
He leads a journey through botany and birds, fossils and fungi, using a different object to lead each chapter. A great brown trout caught by his father opens up the world of fish, streams and rivers. A blue thrush’s egg takes us out tramping through water meadows and into the social world of birds and trees.
Richard takes us back to his past as a small boy who was allowed a little shed at the bottom of the garden in which to play chemist, and where, with the guidance of the encyclopaedia, he made the likes of potassium cyanide from horse hoof clippings, and then the ‘smelliest substance’ – a chemical that when taken outside the shed’s confines brought mayhem to his school, and the Central Line. Educational and inspiring, this is a charming memoir of a life in the thrall of science and the wonders of the natural world.