Cherry Kearton

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Cherry Kearton
Cherry kearton.jpg
Richard and Cherry Kearton, 1890s
Born (1871-07-08)8 July 1871
Thwaite, Yorkshire
Died 27 September 1940(1940-09-27) (aged 69)
Marylebone, London
Spouse(s) Mary Burwood (m.1900, d.1920), Ada Forrest (m.1922- his death)
Children 2

Cherry Kearton (1871–1940) was one of the world's earliest wildlife photographers and writers.


Kearton was born in the small Yorkshire Dales (Swaledale) village of Thwaite, North Riding of Yorkshire, England. In 1900, he married Mary Burwood Coates, with whom he had a son, also named Cherry, and a daughter, Nina. They divorced in 1920, and he married Ada Forrest, a South African soprano, in 1922. He died in 1940 after reading for the BBC's Children's Hour. The Royal Geographical Society's Cherry Kearton Medal and Award was created in his honour.[1]


Cherry Kearton specialised in animal photography, having taken the first ever photograph of a bird's nest with eggs in 1892. In the summer of 1896 he and his brother Richard Kearton (1862–1928), a naturalist,[2] reached the Outer Hebridean islands of St Kilda and many other remote places. In 1898 their famous book With Nature and a Camera, illustrated by 160 photographs, was published in London by Cassell. Cherry Kearton contributed photographs to seventeen of Richard Kearton's books, and wrote and illustrated a further seventeen titles of his own. He made the first phonograph recording of birds (a nightingale and a song thrush) singing in the wild in 1900; took the first film of London from the air in 1908, and the first footage of hostilities in the First World War at Antwerp in 1914. Cherry and Richard Kearton are perhaps best remembered for the development of naturalistic photographic hides, including the stuffed ox of 1900 and the stuffed sheep of 1901.[3]


Cherry Kearton filming with aeroscope

Cherry and Richard Kearton shot a number of 'shorts' of birds and animals for Charles Urban in the years 1905-1908. From 1909, Cherry moved into the field of wildlife documentary film making, shot on visits to Africa, India, Borneo, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. He directed more than thirty films for his film companies Cherry Kearton Ltd and Cherry Kearton Films Ltd.,[3] including the following:

In the beginning, Kearton used a clumsy Kinemascope film camera on tripod, but around 1911 he switched to Aeroscope camera, which led to superior results for this light, one hand operated equipment was better suited to wildlife cinematography.[4]



  • Kearton's Wildlife, part of the series Nation on Film BBC Two, 26 February 2007
  • Bevis, John (2007) Direct From Nature: The Photographic Work of Richard & Cherry Kearton, Colin Sackett.
  • Mitchell, W.R. (2001) Watch the Birdie, Castelberg.


  1. ^ "Medals and Awards" (PDF). Royal Geographical Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Kearton, Richard". Who's Who. 59: 962. 1907. 
  3. ^ a b Bevis, John (2007) Direct From Nature: The Photographic Work of Richard & Cherry Kearton, Colin Sackett.
  4. ^ Palle B. Petterson. "Cameras into the Wild: A History of Early Wildlife and Expedition Filmmaking". 

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