Continuing Hodgson's work

ZSL is active in Nepal with many conservation projects there and on 26 February 2016, ZSL will be hosting a Symposium about conservation in the region.

ZSL has taken a number of steps to increase awareness of the manuscripts and their use, some of these are detailed on the mammals and birds pages:

  • Roberta Davis, a ZSL Fellow has been volunteering in the Library and has transcribed the first 10 pages of Volume 2 of birds as a 'taster' to give an indication of the contents. Please view the draft of Roberta's draft transcriptions of Volume 1 of Mammals  Mammal transcriptions (894.11 KB)   and transcriptions of bird text  Bird transcriptions (221.73 KB). Please note that there is no punctuation in the manuscript, she has tried to make sense of the text but the writing is sometime difficult to decipher. She is currently transcribing the Hodgson correspondence.
  • Another Fellow of ZSL has been through all the manuscript letters of Hodgson and listed them; he also moved them into archival quality envelopes and boxes. These can be found by searching for Hodgson in our Library catalogue.
  • The volumes have been used for the chapter entitled 'Zoology … amuses me much' by Ann Datta and Carol Inskipp in The origins of Himalayan studies: Brian Houghton Hodgson in Nepal and Darjeeling 1820-1858, edited by David M. Waterhouse.
  • Puneeta Sharma, an MA paper conservation student at University of the Arts London, has been conserving a painting of a Chiru or Tibetan antelope as part of her 2014 MA project. This painting is separate from the manuscripts but forms part of our Hodgson collections. The species is named after Hodgson Pantholops hodgsoni, see Tibetan Antelope by Brian Hodgson.
  • Dr David A. Lowther, University of Durham has analysed Hodgson's collection of ornithology paintings and his work in the identification and classification of Nepalese birds, as part of his research into the development of zoology in Britain c.1820-1850.

Further reading about the life of Brian Houghton Hodgson:

A Himalayan ornithologist: the life and works of Brian Houghton Hodgson, by Mark Cocker and Carol Inskipp, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988

The life of Brian Houghton Hodgson by W.W. Hunter, London: John Murray, 1896

The origins of Himalayan studies: Brian Houghton Hodgson in Nepal and Darjeeling 1820-1858 / edited by David M. Waterhouse, London: Routledge Curzon, 2004. (Royal Asiatic Society Books)

Patron’s review : The art of classification : Brian Houghton Hodgson and the “Zoology of Nipal” / David A. Lowther in Archives of Natural History 46.1 (2019) pp. 1-23

Prisoner of Kathmandu: Brian Houghton Hodgson in Nepal 1820-43 by Charles Allen,  London: Haus Publishing, 2015

Hodgson manuscripts

If you'd like to view mammal and bird volumes of the Hogdson manuscripts in person, simply arrange an appointment with library staff to see these exciting materials.

Alternatively, you can download volume 1 and 2 of Hodgson's mammal manuscripts from the ZSL library catalogue online.

Hodgson's hidden gems

‘Further Illustrations of the Antilope Hodgsonii, Abel’ and ‘Description of the Wild Dog of Nepal’, Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1833, vol 1, pp. 110-112


The first of these papers adds to Hodgson’s earlier observations about the anatomy, morphology and taxonomy of the Chiru antelope, Antilope Hodgsonii,and the second paper provides a description of the wild dog of Nepal,Canis primaevus, locally named Búánsú, including its appearance, morphology and behaviour.