Maxwell Knight Symposium 2018 – Open for Registration

The British Herpetological Society (BHS) Commemorative Symposium

London, Saturday 24th November 2018.


latest news 28/6/2018:

Birkbeck College (“School of Arts’ annex”) is now confirmed as the venue for the Maxwell Knight Symposium.

Birkbeck College, 43 Gordon Square (“School of Arts’ annex”), London WC1H 0PD

Organised by the British Herpetological Society (BHS), with support from the British Chelonia Group (BCG), the Amateur Entomologists Society (AES), the Institute of Animal Technology (IAT), The Frightened Face of Nature (FFON) and others.

Maxwell Knight’s filing cabinet

The Symposium commemorates the 50th anniversary of the death of Maxwell Knight (MK), the famous naturalist, who was also MI5’s ‘Greatest Spymaster.’ It will recount and reassess his life and work in the 21st century, with reference to contemporary environmental issues such as species and public education. Literature and specimens from Maxwell Knight’s collection, including long-lost manuscripts from his original filing cabinet, will be on display. During breaks and at the end of the symposium there will be a showing of Maxwell Knight’s original films.


The theme of the symposium is to be Maxwell Knight – his life and work and its relevance 50 years after his death.

Two introductory (plenary) lectures at the symposium will discuss MK the naturalist (by John E Cooper), and MK the spymaster (by Simon King).

Following these two introductory lectures there will be other short presentations by herpetologists, field naturalists, ecologists, animal technicians and others whose work today is relevant to Maxwell Knight and his concerns half a century ago about environmental issues, animal welfare, conservation of wildlife, including conservation of wildlife, captive-breeding of endangered species and education of the public, especially children.

Presentations will be punctuated with readings taken from Maxwell Knight’s writings, including his 1961 unpublished manuscript “The Frightened Face of Nature”. There will be displays of literature and specimens, including “long lost” material from Maxwell Knight’s filing cabinet.

Registration now open!

Visit the BHS website today

Registration to enable attendance at the symposium can only be made via the BHS. Registration is strongly preferred directly via the event entry on the BHS website, with payment made via Paypal.


13.00 Arrival and Registration. Viewing of literature.

First session, introduced by Mrs Margaret E Cooper (Chairman)

13.25 Introductory lecture: “Maxwell Knight the naturalist” – Professor John E Cooper

13.45 Introductory lecture: “Maxwell Knight the spy-master” – Mr Simon King

14.15 Presentation: “The frightened face of nature: challenges facing the planet” – Mr Paul Pearce-Kelly

14.35 “Newts, nadders and neophyte naturalists” – a dramatic interlude (Provisional title – re-enactment of MK’s childhood encounter with youths and newts at a Surrey pond) – Simon King, John Cooper and others

15.05 Tea and coffee break. Viewing of literature and items from Maxwell Knight’s collection.

Second session, introduced by Professor John E Cooper (Chairman)

15.50 Presentation “Conservation and captive-breeding projects involving chelonians” – Ms Anne Rowberry

16.20 Presentation “Advances in the health and welfare of captive animals” – Mr Alan Graham

16.45 Presentation “Educating the next generation: culture, care and conservation” – Ms Victoria Burton/Mr Dafydd Lewis

17.15 General Discussion. Short accounts by people who either knew Maxwell Knight or who were influenced by him. Tributes from herpetologists, field naturalists, conservationists, biologists, animal care staff and others (Mark Rose, FFI; John Burton, formerly BBC; June Chatfield, Haslemere; Graham Wellstead, Surrey…….)

17.45 Closing Remarks (Professor John E Cooper).

18.00 Departure.

Registration now open!

Visit the BHS website today

Registration to enable attendance at the symposium can only be made via the BHS. Registration is strongly preferred directly via the event entry on the BHS website, with payment made via Paypal.

If you’d like to be kept informed about the event and The Frightened Face of Nature project, join our mailing list today:




The full programme for this Symposium will be issued later this year. 

Professor John E Cooper, FRCPath, FRCVS/Mrs Margaret E Cooper, LLB, FLS, Co-ordinators, Maxwell Knight Commemorative Symposium at:

Wildlife Health Services (UK)

Updated JEC/MEC. 25