Richard Fortey retired from his position as senior palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum in 2006. His previous books include the critically acclaimed Life: An Unauthorized Biography, shortlisted for the Rhone-Poulenc Prize in 1998, Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2001, The Hidden Landscape, which won the Natural World Book of the Year in 1993 and Fossils - A Key to the Past which is now in its third edition. He also won the Lewis Thomas Prize for Science Writing in 2003. He was Collier Professor for the Public Understanding of Science in 2002, has been elected to be President of the Geological Society of London for its bicentennial year of 2007, and is a member of the Royal Society. His latest book is Dry Store Room no 1 - The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum.
'Truth and courage are what memoirs need and this one has them
both in spades ... He never forgets that the small boy, watching
his father's effortless casting on the waters of the Itchen,
somehow remains permanently present inside the great, famous and
lauded scientist. The unforgotten boy: that is what makes this a
book a revelation'
Adam Nicolson, winner of the 2018 Wainwright Prize
'A wonderful, absolutely beguiling glimpse into the formative
life of a great scientist. I learnt a lot and really loved it'
'A compelling autobiography that shows how an awkward youth
became a renowned naturalist ... wonderfully lyrical ... funny and
entertaining ... I would also suggest that the real revelation is
something other than the way these multiple childhood paths
converge ... [but rather] his ability to see and interpret the
complexities of the living world, as if from a great height, and
then to compress all the technical material into a scientifically
accurate form that is also full of poetry and music ... The most
compelling insight of the book: the way in which its author has
striven to fuse and harmonise, often against career typecasting,
professional constraint and simple circumstances, to become the
whole person he wished to be ... Both the book and the life it
recounts amount to a singular triumph'
Mark Cocker, Guardian
'Fortey is a distinguished scientist, now retired from the
Natural History Museum where he spent nearly all his working life
... A gloriously evocative account of the childhood that created
'Aftera glittering career devoted to delving into vanished
worlds,one of the foremost scientists of his generation finally
puts himself under the microscope ... [A] wonderful, wry
'An expert on trilobites and a successful science writer. His
book's punning title distils both its irresistible charm and a deep
truth about science'