A Curious Boy: The Making of a Scientist: Unabridged edition

By Richard Fortey, Read by Mike Grady

‘Truth and courage are what memoirs need and this one has them both in spades … The unforgotten boy: that is what makes this a book a revelation’

‘Wonderful, absolutely beguiling … I learnt a lot and really loved it’

‘Gloriously evocative’

What makes a scientist?

Charming, funny and wise, in this memoir Richard Fortey shows how restless curiosity about the natural world led him to become a leading scientist and writer, with adventures and misadventures along the way.

From a garden shed laboratory where he manufactured the greatest stink in the world to a tent high in the Arctic in pursuit of fossils, this is a story of obsession and love of nature, flavoured with the peculiarities and restrictions of post-war Britain. Fortey tells the story of following his father down riverbanks to fish for trout, and also of his father’s shocking death. He unfolds his early passions – fungi, ammonite hunting and eyeing up bird’s eggs. He evokes with warmth and wit how the natural world started out as his playground and refuge, then became his life’s work.

Much more than a story about science alone, this memoir gives an unforgettable portrait of a young, curious mind, and shows how luck and enthusiasm can create a special life.

Format: Audio-Book
Release Date: 18 Feb 2021
Pages: None
ISBN: 978-0-00-832399-8
Detailed Edition: Unabridged edition
Richard Fortey spent his working life in palaeontology at the Natural History Museum, specialising in trilobites and becoming a world expert. He was elected President of the Geological Society of London for its bicentennial year of 2007 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Society of Literature. He has received the Frink Medal, the Michael Faraday Prize and the Lewis Thomas Prize for science writing, as well as the silver medal of the Zoological Society for science communication. He is the writer of eight previous science and nature books, including two Sunday Times bestsellers, all of which are still in print. He has presented many television programmes across the BBC and other channels.

'Truth and courage are what memoirs need and this one has them both in spades … He never forgets that the small boy, watching his father’s effortless casting on the waters of the Itchen, somehow remains permanently present inside the great, famous and lauded scientist. The unforgotten boy: that is what makes this a book a revelation'Adam Nicolson, winner of the 2018 Wainwright Prize -

‘A wonderful, absolutely beguiling glimpse into the formative life of a great scientist. I learnt a lot and really loved it’Richard Holmes -

‘Wonderfully lyrical … funny and entertaining … I would also suggest that the real revelation is something other than the way these multiple childhood paths converge … [but rather] his ability to see and interpret the complexities of the living world, as if from a great height, and then to compress all the technical material into a scientifically accurate form that is also full of poetry and music … The most compelling insight of the book: the way in which its author has striven to fuse and harmonise, often against career typecasting, professional constraint and simple circumstances, to become the whole person he wished to be … Both the book and the life it recounts amount to a singular triumph’Mark Cocker, Guardian -

‘A gloriously evocative account of the childhood that created the scientist’Daily Mail -

‘[A] wonderful, wry memoir’BBC Wildlife -

‘[Fortey’s] book’s punning title distils both its irresistible charm and a deep truth about science’Nature -

‘Disarming and enjoyable …there is depth and beauty to his writing and its cadence is bewitching; I read A Curious Boy in a single day…and enjoyed it so much that I immediately went ahead and bought five of his previous books after finishing it’The Inquisitive Biologist -