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Imagine a tale involving Indiana Jones, Charles Darwin, Crocodile Dundee, Erin Brockovich, Ferris Bueller, Alain Robert, Heathcliff, Thomas More... To think that such a tale could be a true story would be surreal. That the characters mighty all be rolled into one man would be incredible. But, astonishingly, Charles Waterton had the soul of all of the above. His biography is absolutely fascinating in many different contexts. If you like a meandering tale in flowery prose then perhaps Richard Aldington’s version is for you. Unfortunately, his is often rambling and aimless and occasionally the narrative is coloured by the prejudices of his era. Julia Blackburn’s version is the definitive version without a doubt. It is insightful, objective, contemporary, and thoroughly researched. A little slow to start, perhaps, but necessarily to form a solid base for the story. Once the adventure gets traction it is utterly captivating. This story could make a blockbuster epic movie and Julia Blackburn’s chronicle would be the perfect basis. So if you’re still looking for a climax to your career, Mr. Spielberg..!
I first discovered Charles Waterton by reading John Timpson's book of Eccentrics. What a fascinating chap he was! He is (somewhat sadly) remembered more for his eccentricities than his travels and great passion for birds, wildlife and conservation. I'm only half way through this book, but it is excellent and I can't wait to finish it. Apparently, he was still climbing trees to watch birds when he was in his eighties! I had trouble climbing them when I was a kid!
Having watched and listened to David Attenborough on 9th March 2013 speaking of his admiration for Waterton at the opening of the new Wakefield Museum an interest in learning more about Waterton was ignited within me......I was not disappointed and am truly intrigued by the story of this amazing man. Proud to be from Wakefield!