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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ernest Thompson Seton

On Tuesday, BBC2 will broadcast a programme about Ernest Thompson Seton, one of America's early environmentalists. He was born in South Shields, Durham, grew up in Canada and spent the end of his life at Seton Castle near Santa Fe New Mexico. And as it happens someone my father knew as a boy when he lived in Santa Fe. Seton was an old man at the time, and my father always spoke of him with awe.
I can remember watching the Walt Disney movie about Lobo the wolf and my father getting out Wild Animals I Have Known and showing me Seton's signature. Seton had signed the book for my grandfather and had included a picture of a hangman's noose with the words -- hang Hitler. My grandfather was an officer in the US navy. My grandmother and father had moved to Santa Fe during WW2 because my father suffered from asthma. Seton lived a few miles from Santa Fe. My father as a boy was quite active in the boy scouts which may be why they knew him. Seton was one of the founding members of the Boy Scouts and wrote the first Boy Scout manual among other things. However, at that point, Santa Fe was not a large place...
My father was very impressed with him and had me read Wild Animals I Have Known after I watched the programme. Seton was a natural storyteller and brought the various animals to life, so it was a delight to read.
The book now sits proudly in the bookcase in the dining room. My children have all enjoyed the stories. And it is a book that should be read by anyone interested in natural history and conservation.
Seton's daughter Ann wrote historical romance novels under the pen name of Anya Seton. I did not realise this until yesterday, but thought it interesting.
Anyway, I shall look forward to watching the programme. Seton's book apparently had a profound influence on David Attenborough. And he deserves to remembered.

4 comments:

Anne McAllister said...

Michelle,
When I was a child my grandfather gave me an entire collection of Ernest Thompson Seton books. They had belonged to my aunt and she'd left them behind when she left home. He read them, loved them, and passed them on to me. I remember taking one to school during 5th grade and not hearing a word the teacher said all day, I was surreptitiously reading Seton with the book held under my desk.

Did you ever read Two Little Savages? It's the best. Romantic heroes were carved from those boys!

Your lucky, lucky Dad!

Michelle Styles said...

Hooray that you are another Seton fan!
I must try and discover that book. I suspect that the Lit and Phil might have it.

And yes, I think he was very pleased to have known Seton. My grandmother often told stories about a romance author that she knew who wrote under a pen name, but she would never divulge who. And now, I am wondering about Anya Seton. Unfortunately there is no one to ask and get a definitive answer.

Ron Edmonds said...

Thanks for this story and the tip mon the BBC2 program. For more information on Seton, with many photos, visit www.etsetoninstitute.org and www.blueskiestoday.org.

Michelle Styles said...

Ron,

Yes both sites you give are excellent. Lots of photos and far more informative than the wikipedia.

I am really looking forward to the programme. Hopefully they will show it on either PBS or BBC America, so more Americans will realise about his accomplishments.