Maxwell Knight Symposium 2018

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.

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 Presentations will be punctuated with readings taken from Maxwell Knight’s writings, including his 1961 unpublished manuscript “The Frightened Face of Nature”.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 MK filing cabinet.

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 JEC/MEC. 25th March 2018.