Gerald Durrell

Topics: Gerald Durrell, World War II, Lawrence Durrell Pages: 2 (584 words) Published: September 15, 2012
Gerald Durrell is a master of many things – a naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist, author and television presenter...but is perhaps best remembered for writing a number of books including Fillets of Plaice. Durrell was born in India in 1925 and said that his first visit to a zoo in India was the start of his love affair with animals. The family moved to England after the death of his father in 1928, but later moved to the Greek Island of Corfu in 1935. It was in Corfu where Durrell began to collect and keep the local fauna as his pets. The family lived on Corfu until 1939. This interval was later the basis of the book My Family and Other Animals. Durrell was home schooled during this time mostly by a friend of his eldest brother Lawrence (later a famous novelist). Together they would examine Corfu fauna, which Durrell housed in everything from test tubes to bathtubs. Another major influence during these formative years, according to Durrell was the writing of French naturalist Jean Henri Fabre. At the outbreak of World War 2 they moved back to England. Difficult as it was in the war and post war years to find a job, especially for a home schooled youth, the enterprising Durrell worked as a helper at an aquarium and pet store. Some of the difficulties faced in this period can be found in Fillets of Plaice. His call up for the war came in 1943, but he was exempted from military duty on medical grounds and asked to serve the war effort by working on farm. After the war, Durrell joined Whipsnade Zoo as a zookeeper. This move fulfilled a lifelong dream: Durrell claims in The Stationary Ark that the first word that he could articulate worth clarity was zoo. Durrell left the zoo in 1946 in order to join wildlife collecting expeditions of the time, but was denied a place in the voyages due to his lack of experience. Despite this setback he travelled around the world collecting and helping animals. Then Durrell started writing humorous autobiographical accounts...
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