Jane Wilson-Howarth

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jane Wilson-Howarth
Jane & chameleon.jpg
Born Jane Margaret Wilson
Pen name Jane Wilson-Howarth
Occupation Physician, author
Nationality British
Genre travel narratives, travel health
Spouse Simon Howarth (1987–)
Children Alex, David (died 1996), Seb

Jane Wilson-Howarth (born 1954) is a British physician, lecturer and author. She has written three travel health guides, two travel narratives, a novel and innumerable articles and scientific papers.

Early life[edit]

Wilson-Howarth was born in Epsom Hospital, Surrey. Her parents are Londoner Peggy (Margaret) Thomas (born 1926) and Ballymena-born bibliophile Joe Wilson (1920–2011).

The middle child of three, Wilson-Howarth grew up in Stoneleigh, the suburbs north of Ewell Village. She attended Stoneleigh East County Infants, Junior and Senior Schools and also Cheam High School. Learning was challenging because of her dyslexia. She left school aged 16 to study for an Ordinary National Diploma in sciences at Ewell Technical College (now the North East Surrey College of Technology).


Wilson-Howarth studied biological sciences at Plymouth Polytechnic concentrating on invertebrates, pollution studies, environmental resource management and completing a research project on cave climate and collembola. This involved countless trips into Radford Cave and led to her first publication.[1] She enjoyed cave exploration in the UK while making extensive collections of invertebrates to document the species living in lightless environments.[2] In 1976 she was awarded a travelling scholarship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust; this funded a life-changing trip to Nepal.

The Nepal connection led to a veterinary research job and she wrote a thesis about rabbit parasites for an MSc from Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Through this work she developed an interest in immunology and a plan to work to help the poor in emerging nations. She then studied for a medical qualification, appropriately a BM, from the University of Southampton.

She is a general practitioner with a Diploma in Child Health (Royal College of Physicians, London 1992), a Diploma in Community Child Health (Royal College of Physicians, RCGP & Public Health Faculty, Edinburgh 1992), a Diploma of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 2007) and was elected a Fellow of the Faculty Travel Medicine, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 2009.


Wilson-Howarth started caving and also SCUBA diving while an undergraduate in Plymouth and combined adventurous activities with ecological studies. She did some cave diving and was probably the first woman to do decompression dives in the subterranean 'lake' in Pridhamsleigh Cavern in Devon. In 1973 she won the British Universities and Colleges individual canoe slalom event and the same day also the seven-mile whitewater canoeing race. In addition she won the national colleges sailing championship. In 1978-9 she rowed for Corpus Christi College, Oxford, the first year the college fielded a ladies 'eight' when they achieved three 'bumps' during Eights Week. In 2004 she took the sport up again in Cambridge and has rowed in various races on the River Cam and at Eton Dorney.


Wilson-Howarth spent six months on an overland trip to the Himalayan region; this was with a small team intent on finding new caves in Pakistan, India and Nepal and documenting what lived inside them. She did some research on histoplasmosis, on bat rabies and made extensive zoological collections mostly for the British Museum (Natural History) / Natural History Museum, London.[3]

While an undergraduate at Southampton she was involved in further expeditions – to Madagascar[4][5] and (leading a team of eleven) Peru.[6] She also organised a medical elective with Save the Children in Ladakh.[7] In 1983 she was awarded the BISH Medal by the Scientific Exploration Society for "courage and determination in the face of adversity.”

The first Madagascar expedition led to a second, and this work contributed to the Ankarana Massif's recognition as an important refuge for mammals including the endangered crowned lemur, Sanford's brown lemur,[8][9] as well as smaller wildlife[10] and a previously unknown blind fish.[11][12] The Massif also proved to be a rich location where important sub-fossil giant lemur remains were discovered.[13][14][15]

Medical career[edit]

Since qualifying as a doctor of medicine, Wilson-Howarth has worked in hospital medicine and obstetrics and gynaecology in Swindon, orthopaedics in Salisbury and paediatrics in Oxford. She was employed on various child survival and hygiene promotion projects in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, India and Nepal. Currently she is a general practitioner (GP) in Cambridgeshire and teaches Cambridge medical students about general practise and also international health. She lectures on travel health too and has contributed to numerous textbooks[16][17][18] and on occasion to national newspaper health stories.[19]


Wilson-Howarth's writing almost invariably has a travel theme. The Essential Guide to Travel Health is now in its fifth edition and was originally launched as Bugs Bites & Bowels in 1995. Your Child Abroad: a travel health guide is a family manual written in collaboration with paediatrician Dr Matthew Ellis. How to Shit Around the World is a compilation of toilet tales, and includes an introduction by Kathleen Meyer author of How to Shit in the Woods. Wilson-Howarth's first book, writing as Jane Wilson, Lemurs of the Lost World (1990, 1995) is about expeditions to Madagascar and was described as the finest travel book thus far written about Madagascar by Dervla Murphy in the Times Literary Supplement.[20] A Glimpse of Eternal Snows is a moving travel memoir[21][22] set in Cambridge and Nepal which has received praise in the press;[23] a new edition was published in the UK in October 2012 and in North America in February 2013. A novel Snowfed Waters was launched early in 2014.

Wilson-Howarth's work has been showcased twice at the Cambridge Wordfest; she read from her memoir and, more recently, a contribution was selected by Oxygen Books / City Picks, for a public reading of Cambridge's finest writing. A Glimpse of Eternal Snows was also chosen for The National Year of Reading and by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire for its A Book a Day project in May. Wilson-Howarth has a poem 'Kathmandu' in a recent anthology.[24]

She has contributed to almost every issue of Wanderlust – that's over a hundred and fifty travel health features – and she's also written for Condé Nast Traveller. Wilson-Howarth occasionally writes for The Independent newspapers and other national publications.[25][26] She is a member of the Society of Authors, the innovative Walden Writers co-operative and Cambridge Writers. She often gives talks and readings especially in East Anglia.[27]


Wilson-Howarth has given television interviews on BBC Breakfast, ITV Tyne Tees and Sky Travel as well as on national Radio 4 programmes including Excess Baggage, Breakaway, The Living World and Medicine Now. She has also been interviewed live for radio programmes broadcast in the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Ireland and innumerable local radio stations. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's Afternoon Show with Sue Dougan.

Work with Walden Writers[edit]

It used to be that writers wrote, and publishers printed and sold their books but times are changing. The Walden Writers co-operative was set up in the fine market town of Saffron Walden, Essex by Amy Corzine and Martyn Everett in 2008. Their vision was to cross-promote the work of its members, to organise literary events, to exchange information and to give one another mutual support. It is a model of writers taking on and engaging directly with their public[28] and embracing the challenges that were once fielded by their publishers. Wilson-Howarth is a driving force within the co-operative. Other members of the group include biographer Clare Mulley, children's authors Victor Watson, Rosemary Hayes and Penny Speller, novelists including Saumya Balsari and Carol Frazer, and historians Martyn Everett and Lizzie Sanders.


  1. ^ Wilson, J.M. (1975). "The effect of low humidity on the distribution of Heteromurus nitidus (Collembola) in Radford Cave, Devon". Transactions of the British Cave Research Association 2 (3): 123–126. 
  2. ^ Transactions of the British Cave Research Association vol 5; no 3; p195
  3. ^ Jane M. Wilson (1982). "A review of world Troglopedetini (Collembola, Paronellidae), including an identification table and descriptions of new species". Cave Science: Transactions of the British Cave Research Association 9 (3): 210–226. 
  4. ^ Howarth, C.J. et al (1986). "Population Ecology of the Ring-tailed Lemur and White Sifaka at Berenty, Madagascar". Folia Primatologica 47: 39–48. doi:10.1159/000156262. 
  5. ^ Wilson, Jane M. (1987). "The Crocodile Caves of Ankarana, Madagascar". Oryx 21 (1): 43–47. doi:10.1017/s0030605300020470. 
  6. ^ White, A.J. (1984). "Cognitive impairment of AMS and acetazolamide". Aviation, Space & Environmental Medicine 5: 598–603. 
  7. ^ Wilson, J.M. (1986). "Hair analysis and the assessment of marginal malnutrition in children from Little Tibet". Transactions of the Royal Society Tropical Medicine & Hygiene 80: 168–9. doi:10.1016/0035-9203(86)90231-2. 
  8. ^ Wilson, J.M. et al (1989). "Ecology and Conservation of the Crowned Lemur at Ankarana, N. Madagascar with notes on Sanford's Lemur, Other Sympatrics and Subfossil Lemurs". Folia Primatologica 52: 1–26. doi:10.1159/000156379. 
  9. ^ Fowler, S.V. et al (1989). "A survey and management proposals for a tropical deciduous forest reserve at Ankarana in northern Madagascar". Biological Conservation 47: 297–313. doi:10.1016/0006-3207(89)90072-4. 
  10. ^ José G. Palacios-Vargas & Jane Wilson (1990). "Troglobius coprophagus, a new genus and species of cave collembolan from Madagascar with notes on its ecology" (PDF). International Journal of Speleology 19 (1–4): 67–73. doi:10.5038/1827-806x.19.1.6. 
  11. ^ Banister, K.E. (1994). "Glossogobius ankaranensis, a new species of blind cave goby from Madagascar". Journal of Ichthyology & Aquatic Biology 1 (3): 25–28. 
  12. ^ Wilson, Jane M. (1996). "Conservation and ecology of a new blind fish, Glossogobius ankaranensis from the Ankarana Caves, Madagascar". Oryx 30 (3): 218–221. doi:10.1017/s0030605300021669. 
  13. ^ Wilson, Jane (ed.) (1987). "The Crocodile Caves of Ankarana : Expedition to Northern Madagascar, 1986". Cave Science : Transactions of the British Cave Research Association 14 (3): 107–119. 
  14. ^ Wilson, J.M. et al (1995). "Past and Present Lemur Fauna at Ankarana, N. Madagascar". Primate Conservation 16: 47–52. 
  15. ^ Godfrey, L.R. et al (1996). "Ankarana: window to Madagascar's past". Lemur News 2: 16–17. 
  16. ^ Johnson, Chris; Sarah Anderson; Jon Dallimore; Shane Winser; David Warrell (2008). Oxford Handbook of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 68–73 & 402–405. ISBN 978-0-19-929661-3. 
  17. ^ Field, Vanessa; et al (2010). Health Information for Overseas Travel. London: National Travel Health Network and Centre. p. 378. ISBN 978-0-9565792-0-1. 
  18. ^ Sharland, Mike; et al (2011). Manual of Childhood Infections (Oxford Specialist Handbooks in Paediatrics). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 350–356. ISBN 978-0-19-957358-5. 
  19. ^ "Shortage of yellow fever vaccine". Independent newspaper on line. 2 February 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  20. ^ Memsahib on the Move, 8 March 1996
  21. ^ Mountain Baby
  22. ^ To Live – and Die – with Dignity
  23. ^ A Short Life and a Happy One
  24. ^ Society of Medical Writers (2012). Poems on Prescription. Society of Medical Writers, UK. pp. 103pp. ISBN 978-0-9573575-0-1. 
  25. ^ Never Travel Without
  26. ^ Wilson-Howarth, Jane (2009). "Have children, will travel". The Geographical (London) 81 (7): 67–70.  http://www.geographical.co.uk/Magazine/Kit/Children-_July_09.html
  27. ^ Cambs Times
  28. ^ Walden Writers and the Joy of Books


Travel Narratives

  • Wilson, Jane (1995). Lemurs of the Lost World: exploring the forests and Crocodile Caves of Madagascar. Impact, London. p. 216. ISBN 978-1-874687-48-1. 
  • Jane Wilson-Howarth (2012). A Glimpse of Eternal Snows: a journey of love and loss in the Himalayas. Bradt Travel Guides, UK. p. 390. ISBN 978-1-84162-435-8. 

Travel Health Guides

  • Wilson-Howarth, Jane (1995, 1999, 2002, 2006). Bugs Bites & Bowels now republished as The Essential Guide to Travel Health
  • Wilson-Howarth, Jane; Matthew Ellis (1998). Your Child's Health Abroad: a manual for travelling families. Bradt / Globe Pequot. p. 198. ISBN 1-898323-63-1. 
  • Wilson-Howarth, Jane; Matthew Ellis (2005). Your Child Abroad: a travel health guide. Bradt / Globe Pequot. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-84162-120-3. 
  • Jane Wilson-Howarth (2006). How to Shit Around the World: the art of staying clean and healthy while traveling. Travelers Tales, Calif. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-932361-32-2. 
  • Jane Wilson-Howarth (2009). The Essential Guide to Travel Health: don't let Bugs Bites & Bowels Spoil Your Trip. Cadogan / New Holland, London. p. 312. ISBN 978-1-86011-424-3. 


External links[edit]