William Forsell Kirby
He was born in Leicester. He was the eldest son of Samuel Kirby, who was a banker. He was educated privately, and became interested in butterflies and moths at an early age. The family moved to Brighton, where he became acquainted with Henry Cooke, Frederick Merrifield and J. N. Winter. He published the Manual of European Butterflies in 1862.
In 1879 Kirby joined the staff of the British Museum (Natural History) as an assistant, after the death of Frederick Smith. He published a number of catalogues, as well as Rhopalocera Exotica (1887–1897) and an Elementary Text-book of Entomology. He retired in 1909.
Kirby had a wide range of interests, knew many languages and fully translated Finland's national epic, the Kalevala, from Finnish into English. Kirby's translation, which carefully reproduces the Kalevala meter, was a major influence on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, who first read it in his teens.
Kirby provided many footnotes to Sir Richard Burton's translation of the Arabian Nights.
Kirby also did important work on orthopteroid insects including a three volume Catalogue of all known species (1904, 1906, 1910). A short biography of Kirby, with particular reference to his work on phasmids was published by Bragg in 2007.
Works and Achievements
- Manual of European Butterflies, 1862
- Synonymic Catalogue of Diurnal Lepidoptera, 1871
- Catalogue of the collection of diurnal Lepidoptera formed by the late William Chapman Hewitson of Oatlands, Walton on Thames; and bequeathed by him to the British Museum, John Van Voorst, London; 246 pp.
- with Henley Grose-Smith Rhopalocera exotica; being illustrations of new, rare, and unfigured species of butterflies.London :Gurney & Jackson,1887-1902. complete text and plates
- A Hand-book to the Order Lepidoptera, 1896
- Elementary Text-book of Entomology
- Hand-book to the order Lepidoptera, 1897
- Marvels of Ant Life, Circa 1890s
- Familiar butterflies and moths, 1901
- The Butterflies and moths of Europe, Cassell & Co. Ltd., London, 1903: 432 pp.
- A Synonymic Catalogue of Orthoptera, (3 volumes) British Museum (Natural History), London: 1904, 1906, 1910
He is also acknowledged in other scientific works:
- trations of diurnal Lepidoptera, by William Chapman Hewitson, 1863
- Natural history, by Richard Lydekker, 1897
- Contributions to the Bibliography of the Thousand and One Nights and Their Imitations (An appendix to Volume 10 to Richard F. Burton's translation of The Nights, 1886
- The Hero of Esthonia, and Other Studies in the Romantic Literature of That Country, 1895
- Kalevala: The Land of Heroes, 1907. ISBN 978-0-674-50000-6
- Who's Who 1914, p. xxii
- Rao, B.R. Subba (1998) History of entomology in India, Institution of Agricultural Technologists, Bangalore
- Bragg, P.E. (2007) Biographies of Phasmatologists – 4. William Forsell Kirby, Phasmid Studies, 16(1): 5–10
- The Natural History Museum at South Kensington by William T. Stearn ISBN 0-434-73600-7
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
William Forsell Kirby
- A handbook to the order Lepidoptera at www.archive.org.
- Elementary Text-book of Entomology – Scanned version
- A manual of European butterflies, on the plan of Stainton's manual of British butterflies and moths the ill. by T. W. Wood – Scanned version
- A synonymic catalogue of diurnal lepidoptera by W. F. Kirby – Scanned version
- A synonymic catalogue of Neuroptera Odonata, or dragonflies: with an appendix of fossil species – Scanned version
- A synonymic catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera (moths), Vol. I, Sphinges and bombyces – Scanned version
- The Hero of Esthonia
- Works by William Forsell Kirby at Project Gutenberg