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Caroline Grigson

Menagerie: The History of Exotic Animals in England

Hay Festival 2016, 

From Henry III’s elephant at the Tower to George IV’s love affair with Britain’s first giraffe and Lady Castlereagh’s recalcitrant ostriches, Grigson’s tour through the centuries amounts to an impressively detailed history of exotic animals in Britain. On the way we encounter a host of fascinating and outlandish creatures, including the first peacocks and popinjays, Thomas More’s monkey and Lord Clive’s zebra, which refused to mate with a donkey until it was painted with stripes. It is also the story of all those who came into contact with them: the people who owned them, the merchants who bought and sold them, the seamen who carried them to our shores, the naturalists who wrote about them, the artists who painted them, the itinerant showmen who worked with them, and the collectors who collected them. Grigson is now an honorary professor at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. Chaired by John Mitchinson.

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Caroline Grigson