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
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)
WAKEFIELD, Harry Rowland 1861 – 19480 Founder of the Swansea Field Naturalist’s Society in June 1906. His eldest daughter Elsie was Chief Mycologist at Kew for many years. Wakefield was an all-round naturalist but in his fifties turned principally to Coleoptera collecting mainly in Wales and particularly Breconshire on which he published a paper ‘Breconshire Coleoptera’ Proc. Swansea Fld nat Soc. (Information from John Bratton). His collection of some 10,000 specimens was donated by his daughters to Swansea Museum in 1951 (but not fully accessioned until 1985). According to Fenscore ‘in the Museum register, the collector of the specimens is listed as J.R.leB Tomlin, but this contradicts details given in the paper ‘Breconshire Coleoptera’. The collector intended to produce a survey of beetle life in Breconshire comparabke to that carried out for Glamorgan by Tomlin... the beetles were collected during several excursions made into the county by the Swansea Scientific and Field Naturalists Society and during short holidays spent by the collector at some considerable distance from one another. Whilst the collection does contain specimens from Tomlin, it also contains material collected by Wakefield’s other associates as listed in the introduction to his paper, the only other major associated collector apart from Tomlin was Mr J.Williams Vaughan of Erwood.’ (MD 12/04)
WAKELY, L. This name appears on specimens in the collection of K.C.Lewis.. (MD 12/06)