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Papers of Jeffery Boswall

 Single Item
MS. 14914

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Consists of:
  1. Typescript: 'The Private Life of the Kingfisher', with handwritten note 'To be published in book form...BBC [Publication] Private Lives)', 16 pages, 1969
  2. Typescript: 'A Bibliography of the Kingfisher Alcedo atthis', 6 pages, 1969
  3. Shooting script for 'The Private Life of the Magellan Penguin', including appendix listing all known breeding localities, BBC Natural History Unit, 18 pages, 1972
  4. Shooting script for 'Private Lives: The Private Life of the Wild Duck', BBC Natural History Unit, 33 pages, 1973
  5. Shooting script for 'Private Lives: The Private Life of the Cuckoo', BBC Natural History Unit, 49 pages, [1973-1974]

Dates

  • 1963-1974

Extent

1 box

Language of Materials

English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 14914].
Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Shelfmark:

MS. 14914

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 14914

Overview

Papers of Jeffery Boswall.

Biographical / Historical

Jeffery Boswall (1931-2012) helped to cultivate the BBC Natural History Unit's global reputation for wildlife film-making. The popular children's series Animal Magic, which began in 1962, gave Boswall his first TV experience as a producer and director after working in radio.

Boswall then worked on Look, presented by Peter Scott, the renowned conservationist and leader of ornithological expeditions worldwide. The Private Life of the Kingfisher (1966), one of the episodes he produced for the wildlife series, was the Natural History Unit's first programme to be broadcast in colour. Filmed over a year on the River Test in Hampshire, it featured remarkable pictures of the hunter birds mating, performing spectacular dives and feeding their young with whole fish. It won the silver medal at the Moscow film festival.

The original black-and-white version, The Kingfisher, had been screened the previous year as a schools programme. Boswall recognised the talents of the directors, Ronald and Rosemary Eastman, and commissioned them to re-shoot it in colour. This began a long and successful wildlife film-making career for the couple. After Look ended, Boswall commissioned other Private Life documentaries (1969-1975); the subjects of these single-species studies included the starling, fox, cuckoo and wild duck.

He ventured in front of the camera when Alan Moorehead had to pull out of presenting Wildlife Safari to Ethiopia (1970). Boswall spent six months filming in the Horn of Africa with the camera operator Douglas Fisher to bring previously unfilmed animals and plants into viewers' homes. He later presented similar programmes on Argentina (1973), Mexico (1976) and Thailand (1979).

Boswall was born in Brighton, East Sussex. His father, Richard, a grocer who also made a living by renting out properties, died when Jeffery was nine. His mother, Elizabeth, subsequently brought up him and his older brother and sister alone.

When Boswall was 13, a friend took him to see the birdlife on the river Adur, at Shoreham-by-Sea. His resulting enthralment with ornithology determined the course of his life. On leaving school at 16, Boswall took a job with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds as assistant warden on Skokholm Island, off the Pembrokeshire coast. Within months, his first article in the journal British Birds was published.

In 1958, a year after it was formed, he joined the BBC's Natural History Unit, in Bristol, as an assistant radio producer working on The Naturalist and Birds in Britain. Four years later, Boswall started directing Animal Magic and, in 1964, he switched permanently to television.

One of Boswall's later films for the BBC, which he narrated and produced, was Animal Olympians (1980), contrasting the beauty, endurance and power of creatures with human athletes. It was a fun documentary showing, for instance, sprinters being outrun by cheetahs and swimmers proving no match for seals.

In 1987, Boswall returned to the RSPB as head of its film and video unit. He produced various short documentaries, including For Love of Birds – The Story of the RSPB 1889-1989, to mark the charity's centenary.

After a few years, he left the RSPB to launch wildlife film-making courses at the University of Derby, where he became a senior lecturer. Later, he lectured widely across the country and on cruises, and sat on film festival juries. Boswall chaired the British Kinematograph Sound and Television Society's international symposiums for wildlife film-makers from 1976 to 1991.

Custodial History

Presented to the Alexander Library of Ornithology by Jeffery Boswall.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Alexander Library of Ornithology, 2018.
Title
Papers of Jeffery Boswall
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid prepared by EAD version by Jen Patterson
Date
2019
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Contact:
Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom