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Correspondence of Derek Goodwin

 Single Item
MS. 14976
Held in our offsite storage facility
Correspondence, mainly between Derek Goodwin and Mark Cocker, but also C.J.O. Harrison, Sir Christopher Lever, Owen Myrfyn, [-] Pienkowski, Simon Barnes, Rob Hume, Richard Sell, Graham Wynne, 1986-2005. [Detailed item handlist included in box.]


  • 1986-2005


1 box

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access


Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark, e.g. MS. 14976].
Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.


MS. 14976

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 14976


Correspondence of Derek Goodwin.

Biographical / Historical

Richard Patrick Goodwin was born in Woking on 26 Feb 1920. For reasons unclear, his parents called him Derek, and the name stuck for the rest of his life. He was a British ornithologist who wrote seminal works on estrildid finches, crows and pigeons and was considered to be an expert on bird behaviour.

Derek served in the military with the Royal Artillery during WWII and was a veteran of the Siege of Tobruk. He embarked on a career in ornithology after leaving the army in 1945.

Goodwin was employed by the Natural History Museum after the war, despite not having any formal ornithological training. He initially worked in the museum's bird room, eventually rising through the ranks to become principle scientific officer for birds. As part of his work at the museum, he wrote a series of detailed books on crows, pigeons and estrildid finches that are still regarded as the definitive works on these particular birds today. He also wrote and published his book, Birds in Man's World, and wrote a series of children's books and pamphlets on birds. In 1965 he participated in the third of the Harold Hall Australian ornithological collecting expeditions.

He was a prolific correspondent on the subject of birds, and was appointed a corresponding member of Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft in the 1970s, despite never having been formally taught German. He also taught and mentored noted ornithologists when they were students (e.g. Rob Hulme, Aubrey Manning and Desmond Morris).

Unlike most ornithologists, Goodwin supported the plight of bird species that had been introduced to Britain and elsewhere. He was particularly concerned with the plight of two rare pheasant species - the golden pheasant and the Lady Amherst's Pheasant, writing numerous letters and articles on the subject. He even resigned from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to protest its perceived lack of support for saving these pheasants, which had been introduced to parts of rural England. However, he did not support the reintroduction of raptor species, even regarding the White-tailed Eagle as a potential danger to other species.

Derek Goodwin died on 14 May 2008, at the age of 88.


Jerome A. Jackson. In Memoriam: Derek Goodwin, 1920-2008. The Auk, 2010, 127(4), p.955

John F. Burton. Derek Goodwin, 1920-2008. Ibis, 2009, 152(1), pp.216-217

Custodial History

Presented to the Alexander Library of Ornithology by Mark Cocker, Dec 2012.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Alexander Library of Ornithology, 2018.
Correspondence of Derek Goodwin
Finding aid prepared by EAD version by Sarah Thiel and Jen Patterson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom