The Overloaded Ark
The Overloaded Ark, first published in 1953, is the debut book by British naturalist Gerald Durrell. It is the chronicle of a six months collecting trip to the West African colony of British Cameroon - now Cameroon - (Dec 1947 - Aug 1948) - that Durrell made with the highly regarded aviculturist and ornithologist John Yealland. Their reasons for going on the trip were twofold - ' to collect and bring back alive some of the fascinating animals, birds, and reptiles that inhabit the region,' and secondly, for both men to realise a long cherished dream to see Africa.
Its combination of comic exaggeration and environmental accuracy, portrayed in Durrell's light, clever prose, made it a great success. It launched Durrell's career as a writer of both non-fiction and fiction, which in turn financed his work as a zookeeper and conservationist.
Durrell had married Jacqueline Sonia Wolfenden (Jacquie Durrell), 21, a music student, on 26 February 1951. She knew that he could keep a company spellbound with his talk, and wondered why he couldn't present stories of his animal collecting to a wider audience. Durrell, having criticized a BBC radio talk about life in West Africa, sent in a fifteen-minute radio script about his trials attempting to catch a hairy frog in the Cameroons. It was his first piece of professional writing.
- 'Gerald Durrell: a biography' Douglas Botting chapter eleven 'writing man'1951-1953