A mystery egg (is it a dodo’s?), a wandering hippo, an enigmatic human skull, a secret visit by a famous aviator, a mysterious monster, the most famous fish in the world (the coelacanth), ancient human footprints, the German settler centenary, a museum ghost, and rugged expeditions into remote parts of southern Africa to collect specimens for her beloved East London Museum. These were just some of the ingredients in the colourful life of pioneering museum curator and environmental crusader, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer.
Marjorie and her five sisters, together with their enterprising mother, Willie, and peripatetic father, Eric, lived in a variety of remote Eastern Cape locations in the 1910s and 20s. They had many adventures, and narrowly escaped death on several occasions, while exploring the natural and cultural history of their environs. They also suffered considerable hardships and sometimes had to live off the veld to survive.
Marjorie was the first bird ringer in South Africa and an important early researcher on flowering plants, birds, fossils and Xhosa customs. She started a range of civic and scientific societies and launched a legendary series of temporary exhibitions that delighted visitors to her museum, which soon became an important social hub in the city. From humble beginnings, and with no formal post-school education, she developed from a child prodigy into a world famous figure whose inspiring story is a classic example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. This riveting account of her extraordinary life will capture the imagination of a wide range of readers.