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Sir Peter Markham Scott

(1909—1989) painter, ornithologist, and broadcaster


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British naturalist and painter who made a major contribution to nature conservation, in particular by founding the Wildfowl Trust (subsequently renamed the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) in Britain. He was knighted in 1973. The son of the polar explorer Robert Falcon Scott, Peter Scott first studied science at Trinity College, Cambridge (1927), but soon switched to art history and architecture. Later he studied at the State Academy School, Munich, and the Royal Academy, London, and in 1933 gave his first one-man exhibition of paintings, which were mainly of geese and other wildfowl. Wildlife remained his favourite subject although he also painted some portraits, including Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. Inspiration for his work derived from his favourite hobby – wildfowling. In the late 1930s he made several trips abroad to observe geese on their migrations and he became increasingly concerned with conserving wildfowl rather than shooting them. He was also a keen yachtsman, winning a bronze medal in the 1936 Olympic Games and the Prince of Wales Cup in 1937, 1938, and 1946. He also captained the British entry in the 1964 America's Cup. During World War II he served in the Royal Naval Supplementary Reserve and became lieutenant-commander of a gunboat, which he renamed The Grey Goose.

After the war in 1946 Scott founded the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge on the River Severn in Gloucestershire and later opened another reserve at Peakirk, Lincolnshire, both sites becoming major centres for the breeding and study of wildfowl and other birds. Scott made many expeditions to study wildlife around the world. He was presenter of the TV series Look and wrote many books, including Morning Flight (1935), Key To Wildfowl of the World (1949), The Eye of the Wind (1961), and Travel Diaries of a Naturalist (1983). He was chairman of World Wildlife Fund International (1962–82) and vice-president of its British branch.

From Who's Who in the Twentieth Century in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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