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Sketches and watercolours by Abel Chapman

 Single Item
MS. 15569
Held in our offsite storage facility

  • Request


  1. Drawing book of pencil sketches and watercolours of birds, other animals and ships, some depicting hunting, including one sketch signed Abel Chapman, 18pp., 1861
  2. Leather-bound album of watercolour sketches of birds, mostly waterfowl, and hunting scenes, 65 plates, 1871-1886
  3. Letter from W.B. Alexander to Mr. Graham, with copy of Graham's reply, 1953
  4. Christmas card from W.B. Alexander containing his photograph, recipient unknown, assumed to be Mr. Graham, 1959


  • Creation: 1861, 1871-1886, 1953, 1959


1 box

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark, MS. 15569].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.


MS. 15569

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 15569


Sketches and watercolours by Abel Chapman (1851-1929), naturalist and hunter

Biographical / Historical

Abel Chapman (1851-1929), naturalist and hunter, was born in Bishopwearmouth, County Durham. He was the eldest son of wine merchant Thomas Chapman, the brother of Alfred Crawhall Chapman, and the grandson of Joseph Crawhall, a founder member of the Natural History Society of Northumberland. Educated at Rugby School, he then went on to join the family business, becoming a partner in 1875 and selling the business in 1897.

Chapman travelled extensively after leaving school, combining business with his love of outdoor pursuits. His destinations included Spain, Portugal, Canada, Scandinavia and Africa, and he wrote extensively on his travels and hunting, with publications including Wild Spain (1893) with Walter J. Buck, Wild Norway (1897), On Safari (1908), Savage Sudan (1921), and a chapter on the animals and hunting culture of Spain for The Big Game of Africa and Europe (1914). He was indirectly involved in the creation of the Kruger National Park, having put forward the idea of a game reserve after being disappointed with the hunting in South Africa.

Chapman also pursued his outdoor interests at home, being passionate about the flora and fauna of his native Northumberland. In addition to his books on the wildlife of Europe and Africa, he also wrote Bird Life of the Borders (1889) and First Lessons in the Art of Wildfowling (1896). He was responsible for the foundation of what became the British Association for Conservation and Shooting and purchased the Houxty estate in Northumberland where he experimented in salmon fishing and created a natural sanctuary for birds and other wildlife.

For further information see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Custodial History

Bequeathed to the Alexander Library of Ornithology by Lieut. Col. C.S. Graham of Northumberland and Jersey, May 1972.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Alexander Library of Ornithology, 2018.

Related Materials

Further papers of and relating to Abel Chapman, not forming part of this collection, can be found in the archives of the Natural History Society of Northumberland, held at the Great North Museum, Hancock.

Sketches and watercolours by Abel Chapman
Francesca Alves 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