The Naturalist’s Journal

Documenting, Observing, Curating, Celebrating

by Professor Suzie Hanna

My father, Ted Ellis, was born in Guernsey in 1909, a hundred years after Charles Darwin. He began to write and illustrate Nature Notebooks from the age of 12, honing his talent for observation through drawing, describing, documenting and celebrating his daily encounters with the natural world.  He was a mycologist, an innovative curator, author and broadcaster. He wrote for East Anglian newspapers for 40 years and was a Guardian Country Diarist for 20 years.

At 18 years old he addressed Yarmouth Rotary Club at a public meeting:

“I should like to speak of the things that keep a naturalist busy and cheerful, of rambles in the woods, of hot June days on Belton Common watching snakes and vipers in the heather, of mild still summer evenings in fenland stepping across dewy seas of grass sparkling with glow-worm lamps…” 

In this session we will study Ted Ellis’s volume of Nature Notes from 1927, and engage in some detailed observation, recording and annotation of Natural subjects. The process will be a foundation for personal interpretative writing.

Illustrations from Ted Ellis’ Nature Notebook, 1927-1928