Biographical dictionary

The Biographical Dictionary of British Coleopterists is compiled and maintained by Michael Darby. The Dictionary can be accessed below, and see also the additional information provide by Michael:

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

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Namesort descending Dates Biography
TYRER, R. Published ‘Winter captures of Coleoptera’ in EWI., 8, 1860, p.11. (MD 12/04)
UHTHOFF-KAUFMANN, Raymond Robert 1910 – 11 October 2003 Born in Paris of Danish parents but moved with his family to England at the outbreak of war in 1914. Educated in London and at Pannal Ash College, Harrogate. At the age of 14 contracted TB and spent the next 7 years at sanatoria in Belgium and Switzerland. On returning to England he taught in preparatory schools at Goatland, Harpenden and Honiton, before marrying in 1943 and moving north to the Holmes Chapel and Sandbach area of Cheshire where he taught at the Terra Nova school. Here his work and a growing family meant that his entomological work was put on hold and was not really rekindled until some time after his retirement and move to Dunnmow, Essex in 1973. In an article titled ‘Looking back: reflections of a quondam Coleopterist’ in ERJV, 96, 1984, pp.103-107 Kaufmann wrote that he caught the entomological ‘bug’ during his time in Belgium and Switzerland... ‘one day a friend brought me an Elaterid, dull brown, with tufted pubescent patches of iridescent gold; on another occasion he arrived with a torpid Procrustes coriaceus... these beetles changed my collecting habits... I wrote off [for] 100 beetles from that most reliable firm, Watkins and Doncaster... next I persuaded my parents to send out a copy of Rev. C.A.Hall’s Common British Beetles and later W.E.Sharp’s Beetles of our Countryside... Coleopteromania had taken off!’ On returning to England he befriended K.G.Blair in the NHM and ‘Where the Coleopteraa were concerned my working life seems to have been divided into four parts’. These concerned first the genus Carabus, which resulted in a 332 page typescript never published; then a three year investigation into necrophagous species which culminated in a long paper in The Naturalist, 1941, pp. 63-72, 115-24, 133-38, 149-56; thirdly five years working on water beetles which saw papers on the Herts, Middlesex and Devon faunas; before finally settling on the Cerambycidae which were to occupy him for the rest of his life. Even before his ‘retirement’ from entomology Kaufmann had begun work on the Cerambycidae publishing a twenty page account of their biology and vice-county distribution based upon records from both the literature and collectors with whom he was in contact in EMM.,84, 1948, pp.66-85, and attending a refresher course at Oxford in 1949 ‘when all my spare time was spent in the Hope Department... going through their material’. The second phase of his work on Cerambycids saw the publication of numerous articles detailing the county distribution and varieties of the British species mostly in the ERJV and later in The Coleopterist; Colin Johnson’s obituary in EMM, 141, 2005, pp.187-191 includes a full bibliography. Kaufmann did not begin hyphenating his name with Uhthoff until 1984. Johnson records a letter from his widow stating that ‘he hated the telephone, he always insisted on putting the full name in the Directory so no one would find him! We do not really use the full name except on very formal occasions, far too difficult to pronounce!’. She also noted that he was somewhat reclusive and avoided being photographed (though there is one in Johnson’s obituary). Kauffman is recorded to have had long correspondences with A.A.Allen and David Nash, and he also wrote to me for biographical information. Much of the earlier correspondence and his library was sadly lost in a fire prior to his retirement. His collection, amounting to some 2,700 specimens, is at Manchester in 10 store boxes, accessioned in 1958 as part of the R.W.Lloyd collection (Johnson, 2004 p.16) and Pedersen (2002) p.129 records a letter in the RESL to C.J.Wainwright dated 1946. Apart from the obituary mentioned above there is another (based on it) in Latissimus, 20, December 2005 p.21 which adds that he contributed 500 records to the national water beetle recording scheme. FRESL from 1986. (MD 12/04, 11/09)
UNWIN, William Charles. 1811- 23 April 1887 General naturalist who published widely and lived for most of his life in Lewes, Sussex. He took up the study of insects later in life between botany and mosses. His interest in Coleoptera is revealed in several notes on the rarer species he had observed in the southern part of Sussex in Morris Naturalist, 8, 1858 pp.18-20, 39-41, 91-93, 158-160, 208-210, 255-57, 276. There are obituaries in East Sussex News, 29 April 1887 and . EMM., 24, 1887, p.47. (MD 12/04)
VAN EMDEN, E.M. Gave more than 250 coleoptera, including larvae, from Germany, Java and Turkestan to the NHM in 10 lots in 1936-1937. (MD 12/04)
VAN EMDEN, Fritz Isidore 3 October 1898 – 2 September 1958 Not British by birth but he is included because he lived in England for the last 22 years of his life (becoming naturalized in 1947), and although employed as a professional Dipterist, he was always more interested in beetles than flies. He was born in Amsterdam but moved to Germany two years later and from 1918-22 studied natural history at the University of Leipzig eventually obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy there. He also obtained a teaching qualification but soon became a professional entomologist, first with Walther Horn at the Deutsches Entomologisches Institut in Berlin-Dhalem, and later in Halle. In 1927 he became Keeper of Entomology at the Natural History Museum, Dresden, but was dismissed from his post when the Nazis came to power in 1933. Van Emden was already known in this country for his work on Coleoptera and, helped by Sir Guy Marshall and G.J.Arrow, he came over here with his wife and family in 1936 and took up a post in the Imperial Institute of Entomology in the following year. Because there was no vacancy for a Coleopterist he started work on Diptera and continued with them for the rest of his life. Harold Oldroyd, who wrote his obituary in EMM., 94, 1958, pp.228-29, records that Van Emden never wholly embraced English customs and practices, and always had difficulties with the language. Van Emden is best known to Coleopterists for the publication of a major series of papers in the EMM on beetle larvae. Interestingly, no reference is made to these by Oldroyd in his obituary, but given that they involved the study of thousands of specimens in the NHM, and of others sent to him at the Institute/Museum by, for example, the ‘wireworm teams’ set up in 1945 as part of the ploughing-up campaign, it would seem that not all his official duties were confined to Diptera. These articles appeared, after a series of smaller papers , as follows: i: A Key to the Genera and most of the Species of British Cerambycid Larvae 75, 1939, pp.257-73, 76, 1940, pp.7-13; ii: Key to the British Lamellicorn Larvae 77, 1941, pp.117-27, 181-92; iii: Keys to the Families, 78, 1942, pp.206-26, 253-72 iv: Various small families, 79, 1943, pp.209-23,259-70; v: Elateridae, 80, 1944, pp.13-37; vi: Tenebrionidae, 83, 1947, pp.154-71, On the Larvae of Palorus, a supplement to vi: 84, 1948, p.10; and vi: Coccinellidae, 85, 1949, pp.265-83. It is possible that the appearance of Duffy’s work, which covered some of the same ground, might have discouraged Van Emden from producing more papers in the series. He also published an important paper on the Dipterous parasites of Coleoptera in ibid., 86, 1950, pp.182-206. (MD 12/04)
VINE, A.C. There are specimens bearing this name in the collection of K.C.Lewis. (MD 12/06)
VIRTUE-TEBBS, H. I have a note that Stevens auctioned a collection of exotic Coleoptera and Lepidoptera made by an H.V.Tebbs. It seems likely that this is Virtue-Tebbs who sold Minerals, Fossils, Birds, etc on 27 June 1900 although Chalmers-Hunt (1976) p.136 does not mention that insects were included in this sale. FESL 1853-56. (MD 12/04)
W., R.B. These initials appear on specimens in the collection of Aberdeen University. (MD 12/04)
WAILES, George 1802 – 30 October 1882 Mentioned by Stephens (1828) eg. pp. 175, 178, 179. At the time of his death he was living in Gateshead. An obituary in EMM., 19,1883, pp.211-12, suggests that he was mainly interested in Lepidoptera and these certainly formed the bulk of the 20 or so notes he published between 1832 and 1862. A collection of British insects was auctioned by Stevens on 14 May 1884 (Chalmers-Hunt (1976) p. 116) and his British Coleoptera are in the Mason collection at Bolton. FESL 1843, 1854-67. (MD 12/04)
WAKE-WOOD, Margaret In a letter dated 7 November 1965, written when she was very elderly, to the RESL, Miss Wake-Wood states ‘I have been an entomologist for many years & have made big collections of Coleoptera etc’. She lived at that time in South Kensington (I am grateful to Eric Gowing-Scopes for this information). (MD 12/04)