Mrs Snooke’s Tortoise

You can now read Gilbert White’s The Natural History Of Selborne as a daily blog, so I recommend that you do so. One of my favourite items in the Hooting Yard library is a 1946 book entitled The Portrait Of A Tortoise : Extracted From The Journals And Letters Of Gilbert White, edited by the great Sylvia Townsend Warner. She went through the Journals and simply extracted all the references to Mrs Snooke’s tortoise Timothy, from 1st November 1771 (“Mrs Snooke’s tortoise begins to scrape an hole in the ground in order for laying up”) to 1st June 1793 (“Timothy is very voracious : when he can get no other food he eats grass in the walks”). Perhaps, after Jubilate Agno, I may read this on the radio next time there is a special edition of Hooting Yard On The Air.

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