Gerald Durrell has been one of my favourite semi-fiction authors since I was 12. Any Durrell fan will tell you that his books do not simply amuse the reader for a few hours; not only does one enjoy them on a superficial level but they also feel a deeper connections with them. His great love for nature spurred him to conceptualise a conservation project that would require quite some funding. So he wrote. And once he began, I guess the words kept flowing. His style of writing was so refreshingly natural, free of pretence and at the same time absolutely entrancing.
Durrell feels deeply about his subject, something that comes through strongly in his writing. Interestingly, he was born in India and brought up by a widowed mother along with three siblings — Margot, Leslie and Lawrence. After World War-II, he became a student at Whispsnade Zoological Society Park in Bedfordshire, England where he learnt about endangered species and the high risk of extinction they face. He travelled many countries in search of species that were close to disappearing altogether, using all his savings. When he was finally flat broke at the age of 21, his brother Lawerence, a writer himself suggested that he try publishing a book to raise the money needed to continue his quest.
This inspired the first three books - The Overloaded Ark, The Bafut Beagles and Three Singles to Adventure. The success that followed allowed him to set sail again.
Durrell made several natural documentaries and also actively worked for several wildlife preservation trusts, some of which continue it to this day.
Nipun Mathur is a class XI student at Oakridge International School