Derek Gow, who has previously given a talk to the Museum about the history of wolves in Britain, makes a welcome return to give an illustrated lecture about one of our rarest and most enigmatic native mammals, the Wildcat (Felix sylvestris). The species became extinct in England and Wales during the nineteenth century, clinging on thereafter only in the Scottish Highlands. Derek currently has a wildcat breeding complex on his Devon farm and plans to reintroduce these remarkable felines back into the English countryside at a future point.
Derek Gow is a farmer and nature conservationist. Born in Dundee in 1965, he left school when he was 17 and worked in agriculture for five years. Inspired by the writing of Gerald Durrell, all of whose books he has read – thoroughly – he jumped at the chance to manage a European wildlife park in central Scotland in the late 1990s before moving on to develop two nature centres in England. He now lives with his children at Coombeshead, a 300-acre farm on the Devon/Cornwall border which he is in the process of rewilding. Derek has played a significant role in the reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver, the water vole and the white stork in England. He is currently working on a reintroduction project for the wildcat. Derek’s book, Bringing Back the Beaver: The Story of One Man’s Quest to Rewild Britain’s Waterways, was published in 2020.
Your host for this event will be the writer Edward Parnell, author of Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country. Edward Parnell lives in Norfolk and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He is the recipient of an Escalator Award from the National Centre for Writing and a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship. Ghostland (William Collins, 2019), a work of narrative non-fiction, is a moving exploration of what has haunted our writers and artists – as well as the author’s own haunted past; it was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley 2020 prize, an award given to a literary autobiography of excellence. Edward’s first novel The Listeners (2014), won the Rethink New Novels Prize. For further info see: https://edwardparnell.com