Peter Chalmers Mitchell
Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell CBE FRS DSc LLD (23 November 1864 – 2 July 1945), zoologist, was Secretary of the Zoological Society of London from 1903 to 1935. During this time he directed the policy of the London Zoo, and created the world's first open zoological park known as Whipsnade Wild Animal Park.
Peter Chalmers Mitchell was the son of the Rev. Alexander Mitchell, a Presbyterian minister in Dunfermline, Scotland. Mitchell gained an MA at the University of Aberdeen, and moved to Christ Church, Oxford, where he read for natural science, specialising in zoology. After success in the honours examination of 1888, he was appointed University Demonstrator in Zoology.
In 1896 he was the anonymous author of an article in the Saturday Review entitled "A Biological View of English Foreign Policy" which proposed the inevitability of a final battle between Britain and Germany, in which one would have to be destroyed. Having acknowledged his authorship during World War I, he still declared himself "unrepentant" about it in a letter to The Times in May 1939, describing the article as "prophetic".
Despite a tenure of 32 years, Mitchell was not the longest-serving Secretary of the Zoological Society. His predecessor, Philip Lutley Sclater, had been in office over forty years, from 1860 to 1902. Mitchell was succeeded by Julian Huxley.
Mitchell's brainchild, Whipsnade Park, was opened in 1931 on the Dunstable Downs, in the heart of Bedfordshire. Whipsnade is an open air zoo in the countryside, where animals occupy large enclosures rather than cages. The park is involved in a variety of conservation activities.
In 1911 he was invited to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on The Childhood of Animals.
On retiring from the zoo Mitchell moved to Málaga, staying there during the Spanish Civil War. An account of his last days in Málaga as the city fell to rebel forces is included in Arthur Koestler's book Spanish Testament.
- 1900. Thomas Henry Huxley: a sketch of his life and work. Putnam's, London & N.Y; 2nd ed Methuen, London 1913.
- 1904. The nature of Man.
- 1911. Official guide to the gardens of the Zoological Society of London, Zoological Society of London, London.
- 1912. The childhood of animals. Heinemann; Penguin.
- 1930. Materialism and vitalism in biology. Oxford.
- 1931. A centenary history of the London zoo.
- 1937. My fill of days. Faber & Faber, London.
- 1937. Counter-attack in Spain. (with Ramon Sender) Houghton-Mifflin, Boston.
In addition, like Henry Scherren FZS, Chalmers Mitchell made a number of contributions to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica under the initials "P.C.M.". Chalmers Mitchell was critical of Scherren's history of the ZSL, but was in turn criticised by John Bastin for his work on the same subject.
- Crook D.P. 1989. Peter Chalmers Mitchell and antiwar evolutionism in Britain during the Great War. Journal of the History of Biology. 22, 325-356.
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Peter Chalmers Mitchell
- Hindle, E. (1947). "Peter Chalmers Mitchell. 1864-1945". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 5 (15): 367–326. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1947.0005.
- Now known formally as ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
- Chalmers Mitchell, P. 1931. A centenary history of the London zoo.
- Chalmers Mitchell, P. 1937. My fill of days. Faber & Faber, London.
- PCM's contributions to 1911 E.B., 11th Edition.
- John Bastin. The first prospectus of the Zoological Society of London: new light on the Society's origins. Archives of Natural History. Volume 5, Issue 5. Pages 369-388. Edinburgh University Press, October 1, 1970. Deepdyve
Philip Lutley Sclater
|Secretary of the Zoological Society of London