R. S. R. Fitter

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Richard Sidney Richmond Fitter
Born(1913-03-01)1 March 1913
Streatham, London, England
Died3 September 2005(2005-09-03) (aged 92)
EducationEastbourne College
Alma materLondon School of Economics
  • Naturalist
  • Author

Richard Sidney Richmond Fitter (1 March 1913 – 3 September 2005) was a British naturalist and author. He was an expert on wildflowers and authored several guides for amateur naturalists.


Richard Fitter was born in Streatham, London, England, in 1913 and was educated at Eastbourne College and the London School of Economics, where he became a research assistant to Ivor Jennings. He was recruited to the Institute for Political and Economic Planning in 1936 by fellow ornithologist Max Nicholson, and in 1940 moved to the social research organisation Mass-Observation to investigate civilian morale for the Ministry of Information. During the Second World War he worked at the operation research section of the Coastal Command. Then in 1945 he was appointed secretary of the Wildlife Conservation Special Committee of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning and his first book, London's Natural History, was published.

In 1946, Fitter became assistant editor of The Countryman and moved from London to Burford, Oxfordshire, where his writing career flourished. He wrote a number of field guides, other books, articles and notes. He was heavily involved with nature conservation organisations including the Council for Nature, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Fauna and Flora Preservation Society. He also served on the councils of the RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology, and founded the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Naturalists' Trust. In later life he moved to Great Shelford, Cambridge.

His son, Alastair Fitter, is a professor of biology at the University of York and in 2002 father and son jointly authored a paper in Science analysing the changing phenology of plant flowering times due to global warming. Richard Fitter was also one of the leading figures in the international wildlife conservation movement, and for many years the Honorary Secretary of the Fauna Preservation Society (now Fauna and Flora International).

Obituaries were published in The Times (10 September 2005),[1] Daily Telegraph (6 September 2005),[2] The Guardian,[3] The Independent[4] He was also involved in the search for the Loch Ness Monster, being a director of the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau.[5]


  • London's Natural History 1945 New Naturalist no 3.
  • London's Birds (Collins) 1949
  • Home Counties (About Britain Series; No.3) 1951
  • Contributions to the Bibliography of the Natural History of the London Area: No.2: a Subject Index of the Society's Journals, 1941–51 1952
  • The Pocket Guide to British Birds (illustrated by Richard Richardson) 1952
  • Birds of Town and Village (Collins Naturalist Series) 1953
  • The Natural History of the City 1953
  • The Pocket Guide to Nests and Eggs 1955
  • Fontana Bird Guide (Fontana series) 1956
  • Pocket Guide to Wild Flowers (with David McClintock) 1956
  • Fontana Wild Flower Guide 1957
  • Your Book of Bird Watching 1958
  • The Ark in Our Midst: The Story of the Introduced Animals af Britain; Birds, Beasts, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fishes 1959
  • The 'Countryman' nature book: An anthology from 'The Countryman' 1960
  • Your Book About Wild Flowers 1960
  • Collins Guide to Bird Watching (illustrated by Richard Richardson) 1963
  • Fitters Rural Rides: 'The Observer' Illustrated Map-Guide to the Countryside 1963
  • Wildlife in Britain (Pelican books) 1963
  • Wildlife – and Death (Take Home Books) 1964
  • Britain's wildlife: Rarities and Introductions 1966
  • Pocket Guide to British Birds (with Richard Richardson) 1966
  • The Penguin Dictionary of British Natural History (with Maisie Fitter) 1967
  • Pocket Guide to Nests and Eggs 1968
  • Vanishing Wild Animals of the World 1968
  • Guide to Bird Watching 1970
  • Contributed section on Mammals to "The Shell Natural History of Britain" 1970
  • Finding Wild Flowers 1971
  • Birds of Britain and Europe with North Africa and the Middle East (with illustrations by Hermann Heinzel and maps by John Parslow) 1972
  • The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast (with William Plomer, illustrations by Alan Aldridge) 1973
  • Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe (Collins Pocket Guide) (with Alastair Fitter, Marjorie Blamey)1974
  • Penitent Butchers: The Fauna Preservation Society 1903–1978 (with Sir Peter Scott) 1978
  • Collins Gem Wild Flowers (with Marjorie Blamey) 1980
  • The Complete Guide to British Wildlife (with Alastair Fitter, illustrated by Norman Arlott)
  • Grasses, Sedges, Rushes & Ferns of Britain and Northern Europe (Collins Pocket Guide) (with Alastair Fitter, Ann Farrer) 1984
  • Collins Guide to the Countryside (with Alastair Fitter) 1984
  • Contributed the article on 'Naturalized Birds' to A Dictionary of Birds (edited by Bruce Campbell & Elizabeth Lack 1985
  • Wild Life of the Thames Counties (Ed) 1985
  • A Field Guide to Freshwater Life in Britain and North-west Europe (Collins Field Guide) (with Richard Manuel) 1986
  • Wild Life for Man (with Norman Arlott) 1986
  • Collins Guide to the Countryside in Winter (Collins Handguide) (with Alastair Fitter) 1988
  • Wild Flowers (Collins Gem Series) (with Martin Walters) 1999
  • The Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland: The Complete Guide to the British and Irish Flora (with Alastair Fitter, Marjorie Blamey) 2003

As editor[edit]

  • Clare, John (1982). Eric Robinson and Richard Fitter, ed. John Clare's Birds. Illustrated by Robert Gillmor. Oxford. ISBN 0192129775.


  • "Rapid Changes in Flowering Time in British Plants" (with A. H. Fitter) Science Vol. 296, Issue 5573, 1689–1691, 2002