Background to the Biographical Dictionary of British Coleopterists

Provides further information on the Biographical Dictionary of British Coleopterists. Written by Michael Darby.

Please note that the Dictionary is currently under revision to bring it into line with the book British Coleopterists: Biographies, Collections, Sources  by Michael Darby, published by Malthouse Books, 2022.


In November 1981 I began publishing biographical accounts of British Coleopterists (living and dead) under the title A Biographical Dictionary of British Coleopterists as a supplement to the Coleopterists' Newsletter. The arrangement was alphabetical and completion, I imagined, would take about five years. 1,500+ entries, 360 pages and 15 years later, however, I had only reached JANSON. The Newsletter had become The Coleopterist, and it was clear the Dictionary needed reconsidering too.

Much of the information in the Dictionary was now out of date and publication of updates after each letter was no longer practicable because of the amount of new material involved; numerous inconsistencies existed in the format of the entries and in the literary and other references. Moreover, publication of many completed entries was consistently held up by the need to maintain the alphabetical sequence; and there were practical difficulties with photocopying and mailing.

A website seemed to provide the answer to many of these problems and I was delighted, therefore, when Andrew Duff suggested that the Dictionary might become part of the website for The Coleopterist, and agreed to help me set it up. That website has now been moved to its current home within UK Beetle Recording, and the Biographical DIctionary has moved with it.


My original intention in publishing the Dictionary was not simply to provide a tool which would assist new scientific work, but also one which would help curators of collections to identify and find out more about the material in their care. With this in mind I included many short entries devoted to people who had at some time or another expressed in print an interest in beetles but who were not established coleopterists, e.g. many members of the Amateur Entomologists' Society. These entries have been omitted because it is considered that they are of limited worth and likely to slow down the use of the site.

The Dictionary is confined to British coleopterists, but does include a number of foreigners who lived and worked in this country for long periods of time. Britons working overseas are also included.

Living coleopterists

Entries for living coleopterists in the original Dictionary were not included unless I heard from the individuals concerned that they would like to appear on the site. If any of these early entrants wish to appear it is more than likely that you will want to update the information originally published and may or may not be happy to have address(es) included. Please email me with revisions, questions, etc. This also applies to those who have completed questionnaires for entries that have never appeared.

Coleopterists writing their own entries will be particularly welcomed. Please consider including the following information: full name; date and place of birth; educational details including any relevant research; career details; information about interest in Coleoptera; groups studied; size and extent of personal collection; details of other collections owned; details of other collections in which your material is deposited; main geographical areas covered by collections; main publications (please consider twelve a maximum unless circumstances are exceptional, e.g. new species added to the British list, new species described, revisions of groups); membership of relevant societies; details of any official recording carried out; overseas collecting, etc.; any other information you may wish to include; address including e-mail address and telephone number.

Authors of entries will be acknowledged in brackets at the end of each entry, together with dates of production/revision.


I should like to take this opportunity to thank all those curators who have kindly allowed me to go through their collections, and all the librarians, booksellers and collectors who have supplied me with information and material. I owe a special debt of gratitude to the late Eric Gowing-Scopes who was particularly generous both with his time and in providing me with an extensive amount of information from his own researches, to Rob C.H.M. Oudejans who painstakingly extracted numerous birth and death dates from his own database and to Jonathan Cooter who first agreed to include the Dictionary in his Newsletter. Andrew Duff has been a constant contributor of useful information over the years.

I will be particularly pleased to hear from anyone wishing to make corrections or alterations, which will be fully acknowledged. Email Michael Darby or write to Michael at 33 Bedwin Street, SALISBURY, Wiltshire, SP1 3UT.