Maxwell Knight Symposium

The British Herpetological Society (BHS) Commemorative Symposium

London, Saturday 24th November 2018.


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 British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS), 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 to contemporary environmental issues, including conservation of wildlife, captive-breeding of endangered species and public education. Invited speakers (to be announced later this year) will discuss these and other subjects and there will be displays of literature and specimens, including ‘long lost’ material from the MK filing cabinet.

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

Other presentations will be given by herpetologists, field naturalists, ecologists, zoo staff, animal technicians and others whose work today is relevant to Maxwell Knight and his concerns half a century ago about animal welfare, conservation, education, and the biological sciences.

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

Registration for the symposium will open in July 2018 and priority will be given to those who have already expressed interest in attending.

The full programme for this Symposium will be issued later this year. In the meantime, expressions of interest in attending – and offers to participate – should be addressed to:

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

Wildlife Health Services (UK)


Updated 04-Feb-2018.