Gilbert White

Gilbert White (July 18, 1720 - June 26, 1795) was a pioneering naturalist and ornithologist.

In 1756 he became curate in Selborne, his home town. He is regarded as England's first ecologist. He said of the earthworm:

"Earthworms, though in appearance a small and despicable link in the chain of nature, yet, if lost, would make a lamentable chasm [...] worms seem to be the great promoters of vegetation, which would proceed but lamely without them..." (1770)

White is best known for his The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (1789). This was a compilation of his letters to Thomas Pennant, the leading zoologist of the day, and also the Hon. Daines Barrington, a Welsh barrister and another member of the Royal Society. These letters contained White's discoveries about local birds and animals. He believed in distinguishing birds by observation rather than by collecting specimens, and was thus one of the first people to separate the similar-looking Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Wood Warbler.

In addition to his publications on Natural History he is also noted as a poet.

His house in Selborne, The Wakes, now contains the Gilbert White Museum, as well as the Oates Memorial Museum, commemorating Frank and Laurence Oates.

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