The Birds of the Malay Peninsula

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The Birds of the Malay Peninsula is a major illustrated ornithological reference work conceived and started by Herbert Christopher Robinson. The full title is The Birds of the Malay Peninsula: a general account of the birds inhabiting the region from the isthmus of Kra to Singapore with the adjacent islands. It comprises five substantial (large octavo) hardbound volumes of text, with 125 plates (123 in colour) by Henrik Grönvold and 11 maps. It was published by H. F. and G. Witherby, London. The binding of the first four volumes was red buckram; the fifth was red cloth with a dust jacket.


Robinson served as Director of Museums in the Federated Malay States in the early 20th century. On his retirement in 1926 he initiated the production of the work, though he died in 1929 after the first two volumes were published. With the help of Robinson's notes and papers, the third and fourth volumes were prepared by Frederick Chasen, the Director of the Raffles Museum in Singapore. Completion was much delayed, first by Robinson's death, and then by Chasen's early in 1942. The fifth and final volume, by Lord Medway and David Wells, was eventually published in 1976, in a review of which D.G. Robertson says:

"After the war E. Banks, former Curator of the Sarawak Museum, wrote a replacement text and deposited it in the British Museum (Natural History). In 1964, Ken Scriven, a long-time resident of Malaysia, was in London and quite by chance discovered not only Banks's text but also the coloured plates by H. Gronvold. He informed Lord Medway and David Wells who in turn decided to complete the series. Witherby, publisher of Volumes I to IV, agreed to produce Volume V using typesetting, paper and layout identical with the previous volumes and in 1976 the task was completed, almost fifty years after its inception. The authors have revised and updated Banks's text and, because Volumes I to IV are almost priceless, have amended Chasen's original intentions so that Volume V can stand on its own." [1]

The complete set contains:

  • Robinson, H.C. (1927). The Birds of the Malay Peninsula. Vol.I: The Commoner Birds. Witherby: London. pp. 329.
  • Robinson, H.C. (1928). The Birds of the Malay Peninsula. Vol.II: The Birds of the Hill Stations. Witherby: London. pp.xxii, 310.
  • Robinson, H.C.; & Chasen, F.N. (1936). The Birds of the Malay Peninsula. Vol.III: Sporting Birds: Birds of the Shore and Estuaries. Witherby: London. pp.xxi, 264.
  • Robinson, H.C.; & Chasen, F.N. (1939). The Birds of the Malay Peninsula. Vol.IV: The Birds of the Low-Country Jungle and Scrub. Witherby: London. pp.xxvi, 487.
  • Medway, Lord; & Wells, David R. (1976). The Birds of the Malay Peninsula. Vol.V: Conclusion, and Survey of Every Species. Witherby: London. pp.xxxi, 448. ISBN 0-85493-104-X


  1. ^ Robertson, D.G. (1978). "Review of "The Birds of the Malay Peninsula, Volume V: Conclusion, and Survey of Every Species"". Emu. 78 (1): 46–47. doi:10.1071/MU9780045. 

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