Maxwell Knight played a significant part in a number of fields; herpetology was his particular love and he produced a number of scientific papers on this subject as well as adding to national and local records and, through his books and broadcasts, encouraging an appreciation of reptiles and amphibians amongst the British public.
The filing cabinet contains letters from members of the general public, who often wrote and shared photos of their pets and wild animals. From what I have seen, he took the time to reply in full and was incredibly generous with his feedback.
He was an excellent general naturalist and made contributions to our knowledge of subjects ranging from entomology of bird pellets to the behaviour of dormice – about as far away as one can get from infiltrating the British Fascists or stirring up a committee representing Whitehall.
Interesting as it is to think about the derring-do of “M” the MI5 spy-runner, I’m certain were the choice his he’d rather be remembered as the Maxwell Knight who, as one of a small group of enthusiasts, who through their writings and broadcasting, brought natural history to the public’s attention in the 1950s.
Simon H King