Obituary | Published:

Mr. W. P. Pycraft

Nature volume 149, page 575 (23 May 1942) | Download Citation



WILLIAM PLANE PYCRAFT, who died on May 1, was a well-known ornithologist and comparative anatomist. He was born at Great Yarmouth in 1868 and while a schoolboy was attracted to natural history by the wild life of the Norfolk Broads. He became a keen observer of all living things, but devoted himself specially to birds. After leaving school, he desired to follow natural history as a profession, and started as a private pupil with the curator of the Leicester Museum, where he learned the art of preserving and preparing animals for study and exhibition. In 1892 he was introduced to Prof, (afterwards Sir) Ray Lankester, who invited him to be his assistant in making preparations for the Oxford University Museum. While thus occupied he attended Lankester's lectures and demonstrations, and thus extended his outlook by acquiring a good knowledge of the structures and relationships of animals. When Lankester was appointed director of the British Museum (Natural History) in 1898, Pycraft accompanied him to London and became his temporary assistant there. Soon afterwards he joined the permanent staff of the Zoological Department of the Museum, where he remained as an assistant until his retirement in 1933. He spent his later life at Longcross near Chertsey, Surrey, in surroundings where he could continue the field observations which he had begun in early youth.

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