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Dry Store Room No. 1


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'Dry Store Room No. 1' is an intimate biography of the Natural History Museum, celebrating the eccentric personalities who have peopled it and capturing the wonders of scientific endeavour, academic rigour and imagination. Behind the public facade of any great museum there lies a secret domain: one of unseen galleries, locked doors, priceless specimens and hidden lives.Through the stories of the numerous eccentric individuals whose long careers have left their mark on the study of evolutionary science, Richard Fortey, former senior paleaontologist at London's Natural History Museum, celebrates the pioneering work of the Museum from its inception to the present day. He delves into the feuds, affairs, scandals and skulduggery that have punctuated its long history, and formed a backdrop to extraordinary scientific endeavour from Darwin to the present day. He explores the staying power and adaptability of the Museum as it responds to changes wrought by advances in technology and molecular biology -- 'spare' bones from an extinct giant bird suddenly become cutting-edge science with the new knowledge that DNA can be extracted from them, and ancient fish are tested with the latest equipment that is able to measure rises in pollution. 'Dry Store Room No.1' is a fascinating and affectionate account of a hidden world of untold treasures, where every fragment tells a story about time past, by a scientist who combines rigorous professional learning with a gift for prose that sparkles with wit and literary sensibility. Lead title Includes PS Section / Richard Fortey is our star popular science author. He combines rigorous professional science with great literary skill / Fortey's previous books have enjoyed worldwide recognition and have been published in several languages. / Both 'The Earth' and 'Life' were shortlisted for the Aventis (Rhone-Poulenc) Prize for Science and 'Trilobite!' was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. / Devoted fans of Fortey's writing include Bill Bryson and Simon Winchester. / Fortey's last book 'The Earth' was a Sunday Times bestseller and has sold over 30,000 copies in the UK alone. It was chosen as a Book of the Year in the Sunday Telegraph and The Economist. / 2009 is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's 'The Origin of Species', and also Darwin's bi-centenary. This will generate particular interest in evolutionary sciences - just the area that Fortey specialises in. / Competition: Matt Ridley, Richard Dawkins, Steve Jones

About the Author

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.


Award-winning natural-history writer Fortey (Trilobite!) provides a thoroughly delightful behind-the-scenes look at one of the world's greatest natural history museums. Having spent his entire career as a paleontologist at London's Natural History Museum, Fortey is well positioned to explore all aspects of the institution. With unbridled passion and childlike glee, he wanders about the museum discovering samples collected during the voyages of Captain Cook, specimens studied by Charles Darwin and meteorites that originated on Mars. He also introduces many of the largely unknown specialists responsible for the museum's renown. But Fortey's strength is his ability to explain the importance to society of their arcane research. Indeed, he argues, this research "has never been more important at a time when humans are increasingly degrading the environment: "The great museums may harbour the conscience for the natural world, not merely provide its catalog." Fortey offers a beautiful paean to the collections and articulately makes the case that museums are much more than mere spectacles to entertain and educate the public. 16 pages of color illus., 86 illus. in text. (Aug. 21) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

'This book is worthy of the place it tells us about, and that is a pretty lofty chunk of praise.' The Times 'In this loving survey of his life at the museum, never less than enthused by all the museum's collections.' Financial Times 'Fortey...sneaks us behind the scenes with all the glee of a small child seeing for the first time the museum's iconic Diplodocus skeleton. The beauty of the book is that - just like a museum - you can visit the different sections in any order you choose, lingering in the places that most take your fancy ... and there is plenty of solid science to enjoy, elucidated with brilliant flair.' Sunday Times 'His glorious new book is generously illustrated!the tale he tells is often very funny as well as erudite!it is impossible to avoid list--making in reviewing such a book. Really, all that needs to be said is simply read it, and enjoy it.' Country Life 'This book is worthy of the place it tells us about, and that is a pretty lofty chunk of praise' The Times 'In this loving survey of his life at the museum, Fortey!is never less than enthused by all the museum's collections' Financial Times 'Fortey!in his affectionate portrayal of the institution in which he spent his working life!sneaks us behind the scenes with all the glee of a small child seeing for the first time the museum's iconic Diplodocus skeleton!always authoritative!the beauty of the book is that -- just like a museum -- you can visit the different sections in any order you choose, lingering in the places that most take your fancy!and there is plenty of solid science to enjoy, elucidated with brilliant flair' Sunday Times 'Engaging!Fortey's writing is enough to make the behind-the-scenes work of the museum totally fascinating!(his) delightful book, like the museum it describes, is both rambling and elegant' Sunday Telegraph 'Fortey has a scientist's regard for fact but a poet's delight in wonder. This is a rare intoxicating insight into a hidden community intent on unlocking the universe's myriad secrets' Metro

Entering a museum, especially a natural history museum, the museum visitor's focus is on the exhibits he or she is interested in that day, perhaps birds or minerals or plants, or the latest blockbuster show. How often does the visitor think of the people who created these collections, whether they are working today, where this bird, rock, or dinosaur came from, if there are more pieces stored away, and exactly what is going on behind those doors closed to the public? Fortey, a former senior paleontologist at London's Natural History Museum and author of Life, Trilobite, and Earth, spent decades working at this famous place and has the greatest respect and fondness for his institution, its history, its collections, and, most of all, his present and past colleagues. Barely dipping into the wealth of personalities and the collections, Fortey instead takes readers behind closed doors to reveal how a museum runs, how collections are built, and how scientists work. He also traces the London museum's history and the present status of scientific discovery and contributions there. He does this with wit and humor, writing in a wonderfully clear style. Readers will never enter a museum again without wanting someone like Fortey to take them behind the scenes. Highly recommended for all collections and required for natural history and history of science collections.--Michael D. Cramer, Schwarz BioSciences, RTP, Raleigh, NC Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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