Libby Houston

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Libby Houston
Born (1941-12-09) 9 December 1941 (age 72)
North London, England
Residence Bristol, England
Nationality English
Alma mater Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford
University of Bristol
Occupation Poet, Botanist
Employer University of Bristol
School of Biological Sciences
Organization Bristol Naturalists' Society
Botanical Society of the British Isles
Somerset Rare Plants Group
Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project
Children Libby has two children, Sam and Alice, and six grandchildren.
Awards H. H. Bloomer Award

Libby Houston (born 9 December 1941) is an English poet, botanist, and rock climber. The native of North London has published several collections of poetry. Houston, a research associate at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, has discovered several new species of whitebeam (Sorbus), one of which has been given her name. In addition to membership in several organizations related to botany, Houston is a participant in the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project. She was the recipient of the H. H. Bloomer medal in 2012. The award from the Linnean Society of London acknowledged her contribution to natural history, in particular, the body of knowledge of whitebeams in Britain, and the flora of Avon Gorge in Bristol, England.

Early life[edit]

Libby Houston was born Elizabeth Maynard Houston on 9 December 1941 in North London, England and was raised in the West Country.[1][2] She was educated at Lady Margaret Hall of the University of Oxford. In 1966, she married illustrator and musician Malcolm Dean (1941 – 1974) in Somerset.[1][2][3][4] Houston published her first collection of poetry, A Stained Glass Raree Show, in 1967, followed by Plain Clothes in 1971, At the Mercy in 1980, Necessity in 1988, A Little Treachery in 1990, and All Change in 1993.[1][2] The poet has appeared on BBC radio broadcasts for children since the early 1970s.[2][5] She was widowed in 1974[3][5] and married Roderick Jewell in 1979,[1][6] moving that year to Bristol.[7] Houston received a certificate in Science Biology from the University of Bristol.[1]

Research at the University of Bristol[edit]

Houston assisted Lewis Frost in what was previously known as the Department of Botany at the University of Bristol in his study of the flora of Avon Gorge in Bristol. The research included rare flora such as Spiked Speedwell[8] (Veronica spicata) and Bristol Rockcress[9] (Arabis scabra). Her interest in the Avon Gorge flora was enhanced by her rock climbing prowess, which allowed her to study plants inaccessible to others.[7] More recent work has been performed in conjunction with Simon Hiscock, Professor of Botany at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, as well as Tim Rich, head of the vascular plant section[10] at the National Museum Wales. That collaboration has centered on Avon Gorge whitebeams (Sorbus).[7]

She discovered a new hybrid of the tree, to which her name has been given, on a cliff of the Avon Gorge in 2005.[7][11][12] Houston found the rare Houston's Whitebeam (Sorbus x houstoniae), a hybrid between the Common Whitebeam (Sorbus aria) and the Bristol Whitebeam (Sorbus bristoliensis).[7][11][12] The single existing example which has been found is only accessible with ropes. The Houston's Whitebeam was one of fourteen new whitebeam trees officially named in the February 2009 issue of Watsonia, the journal of the Botanical Society of the British Isles.[11][12] Five of those new trees were discovered in Bristol.[11][12][13] Houston's research also included the Wye Valley, where she discovered three of the new whitebeams.[7]

Houston is a member of the Bristol Naturalists' Society, the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, and the Somerset Rare Plants Group.[14] In April 2012, the botanist and poet participated in the exhibition at Bradbury Hall, Henleaze, Bristol, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Bristol Naturalists' Society.[15] She is also a participant in the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project, which was established in 1999 to protect the Bristol side of the Avon Gorge and Downs and to increase awareness of the site.[16][17]

H. H. Bloomer Award[edit]

On 24 May 2012, Houston, a research associate at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, received the H. H. Bloomer Award from the Linnean Society of London to acknowledge her contribution to natural history, in particular to the body of knowledge of Avon Gorge flora and British whitebeams.[7][18][19] The mission of the Linnean Society, founded in 1788, was stated in their first charter, "the cultivation of the Science of Natural History in all its branches."[20][21] The H. H. Bloomer Award, which was established in 1963, was named after Harry Howard Bloomer, a naturalist who wrote a series of malacological papers over a period of more than fifty years.[7][22] The silver medal is awarded by the society to an "amateur naturalist who has made an important contribution to biological knowledge."[7][23]

Bibliography[edit]

  • A Stained Glass Raree Show, Allison & Busby, 1967
  • Plain Clothes, Allison & Busby, 1971
  • At the Mercy, Allison & Busby, 1980
  • Necessity, Slow Dancer, 1988
  • A Little Treachery, Circle Press Publications, 1990
  • All Change, Oxford University Press, 1993

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e International Who's Who in Poetry 2005 (13, revised ed.). Taylor & Francis. Oct 21, 2004. p. 792. ISBN 9781857432695. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Mark Willhardt (27 November 2002). Who's Who in Twentieth Century World Poetry (2, revised ed.). Psychology Press. p. 152. ISBN 9780415163569. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Dean, Malcolm Fred. "England & Wales, Death Index: 1916-2006". ancestry.com. General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes (as reprinted on Ancestry.com). 
  4. ^ Dean, Malcolm F. "England & Wales, Marriage Index: 1916-2005". ancestry.com. General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes (as reprinted on Ancestry.com). 
  5. ^ a b "Libby Houston Biography". jrank.org. Net Industries. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Dean, Elizabeth M. "England & Wales, Marriage Index: 1916-2005". ancestry.com. General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes (as reprinted on Ancestry.com). 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Bristol Naturalist News". docs.google.com. Bristol Naturalists' Society. July–August 2012. p. 6. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "Spiked Speedwell". luontoportti.com. NatureGate. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Arabis scabra All. - Bristol Rock-Cress". nhm.ac.uk. Natural History Museum. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "Tim Rich: Head of Vascular Plant Section". museumwales.ac.uk. National Museum Wales. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Bristol trees named after finders". BBC. 19 February 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c d "14 new trees discovered in the UK and Ireland". museumwales.ac.uk. National Museum Wales. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "Leigh Wood Whitebeams". bristolbotany.co.uk. Bristol Botany. 12 September 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  14. ^ "Site Report for October 2010 - visit to field around Victory Park, Brislington, Bristol". brislingtonarchaeology.org.uk. Brislington Community Archaeology Project. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  15. ^ "Hundreds of photos reveal nature all around us". thisisbristol.co.uk. Northcliffe Media Limited. 16 April 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  16. ^ "Gorge-ous nature on the Downs". bbc.co.uk. BBC. 5 May 2006. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  17. ^ "Project History". avongorge.org.uk. Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  18. ^ "School of Biological Sciences". bristol.ac.uk. University of Bristol. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  19. ^ "Bristol botanist awarded prestigious medal for her contribution to natural history". bris.ac.uk. University of Bristol. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  20. ^ "A Forum for Natural History". linnean.org. The Linnean Society of London. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  21. ^ "The History of the Linnean Society of London". linnean.org. The Linnean Society of London. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  22. ^ "H. H. Bloomer, 1866-1960". conchsoc.org. The Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  23. ^ "The H. H. Bloomer Award". linnean.org. The Linnean Society of London. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 

External links[edit]