Victor Hugo described J. Henri Fabre as the insect’s Homer, and Charles Darwin praised him as an incomparable observer. Born in 1823, Fabre spent his entire life in a small patch of Provence. A rare traveller, Fabre instead found worlds of wonder at his doorstep, describing the hidden lives of many a creature, with special attention paid to insects. Chronicle Books has published a wonderfully illustrated anthology The Passionate Observer, containing selections from Fabre’s massive Souvenirs Entomologiques.
The Land Library also has a full shelf of Fabre’s original works (translated to English), along with an earlier collection, Fabre’s Book of Insects.
And once again, not to be forgotten, our Waterton Canyon Kid’s Library has a half dozen young adult titles on the great French naturalist’s life and work. Here’s an especially good one:
Margaret Anderson’s Children of Summer is told by Fabre’s youngest son Paul, who was frequently enlisted in many of his father’s field studies. Paul tells of his life with Dad; a father who never lost the feelings of an ever questioning child. The living insect was his focus, their daily round so mysterious to us all. This is a wonderful book to encourage any young naturalist to seek out abundant life in hidden places!
FABRE on finally gaining his open air laboratory
“This is what I wished for…a bit of land, oh, not so very large, but fenced in, to avoid the drawbacks of a public way; an abandoned, barren, sun-scorched bit of land, favored by thistles, and by wasps and bees….here without distant expeditions that take up time, without tiring rambles that strain my nerves, I could contrive my plans of attack.” from The Passionate Observer