History and Mystery Now Published!

History & Mystery is an anthology of notes and queries from Newsletters of the Society for the History of Natural History. Naturalists, books, collections, works of art, societies, even a mermaid, are contained here. Some of the notes are witty commentaries. Some of the topics are unexpected, even bizarre. Some of the reprinted queries are still unanswered. History & Mystery celebrates SHNH’s Diamond Jubilee.

Professor Geoff Moore, the Society's President, writes:

'As a more ephemeral publication than the Society's journal Archives of natural history and not being available online (except for the most recent issues), the Newsletter is much less readily available for consultation; few are likely to have access to the full run since 1977. If you’ve ever wondered what Broadwood pianos, criminals, wrapping paper, forged wills, the Secret Service, bad lighting, or Blandings Castle have ever had to do with natural history, then read on. There is erudition aplenty in the contributions made by stalwarts of the Society to the Newsletter. It seemed a shame that the scholarship encapsulated in its back-numbers had so limited a present circulation.'

Compiled by Charles Nelson, it is 208pp and the beautiful cover features paintings by the artist Rebecca Jewell. For more information on the contents, visit the Index [PDF] and list of contributors [PDF].

Council has fixed a retail price of £15 (including postage and packing) for UK members, and £18 for the rest of the world (ROW).  We hope that as many members (and non-members; or “soon-to-be” members?) as possible will avail themselves of this fascinating read (excellent Christmas present material!). 

Comments from our readers!

 "What a lovely surprise to receive a copy of History and Mystery in the post yesterday.  I have been dipping into it at odd intervals and what an extraordinary amount of information it contains." - Sue Thackray (original Newsletter editor in 1977)

"I give you a thousand marks out of a hundred for 'History & Mystery' - a delightful compilation." - S. Peter Dance

"It was a great and pleasant surprise to receive the elegant volume of SHNH extracts this morning. Congratulations … I look forward to a lot of happy dipping." - Jack Smith

"… after briefly dipping into it this morning I can foresee many happy hours of browsing ahead." - John Edmondson

"Many thanks for the copy of History & Mystery … .  What a marvellous publication the Society has produced, I am thrilled to be a very minor part of it." - David Saunders

 "History & mystery is a delight - and I can't put it down (even though a disproportionate number of the words are my own!). It was a brilliant idea …". - David Allen

 "The book is impossible to leave alone! It is alive with anecdote and inscrutable interest. It was on my mind as I was on my knees in heavy wet dew checking the mole traps before breakfast so you  can appreciate the pleasure it has given here, for one moves as over a mine field during this operation. So many questions and so many answers not unlike lifting ancient wallpaper from ancient French domains. Well done!" - David Evans

Ordering Information

History & Mystery is exclusively available direct from the SHNH. As this is a fund-raising project, we regret that trade or other discounts are not available. For addresses in UK £15 (post paid); elsewhere £18 (post paid). ISBN 978-0-901843-09-8 208pp.

Please do not be shy either about sending a donation as much in excess of the asking price as you feel able to afford!  Proceeds from the sale of this volume will help replenish the Alwyne Wheeler Bursary to support young scholars in attending SHNH conferences and meetings. 

If you would like to reserve a copy, download the order form and forward to the  Honorary Editor, Dr Charles Nelson.  His address details are given on the form.


We have set up a facility to allow donations to be made to the Society via PayPal.  Please use the donate button below to order.  Please indicate the number of copies you are requesting on the confirmation (second) page of the order form.

The Society for the History of Natural History (Registered Charity No.2103555 in England and Wales)