»Table of Contents


Section 3


Scientists Related to Nabokov's Work on Lepidoptera


Alphéraky (Alferaki), Sergei Nikolaevich (1850–1918): Russian lepidopterist. From 1867 to 1869, Alphéraky studied at the University of Moscow. In 1871, he went to Dresden for two years to work under the auspices of Otto »Staudinger. After his return to Russia, he focused on the butterfly fauna of Taganrog, the North Caucasus and finally Central Asia. On the advice of Nikolai Mihailovich »Przhevalski, he chose the region of Kulja and the Eastern Tian Shan for closer study, hoping to explore it before Russia handed it over to China. From his 1879 expedition he brought back about 12,000 specimens, among them 112 species or forms that proved to be new. In 1886–88, he treated the butterfly material brought back by Przhevalski from his Tibetan expedition (published in vol. 5 of Romanoff's Mémoires sur les Lépidoptères). Later, he also treated the Lepidoptera brought back by G.N. »Potanin from his expedition to China and Mongolia. Alphéraky was one of Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich »Romanoff advisers and curator of his entomological collections.

*NabBut 310


Austaut, Jules Léon (1844–1929): lepidopterist in Geneva, authority on North African Lepidoptera and on Old-World parnassians about which he published a monograph (Les Parnassiens de la Faune Paléarctique, Leipzig 1889).

*Gift 103


Avinoff, Andrey Nikolaevich (1884–1949): entomologist, painter, orientalist, linguist. Avinoff was born into an aristocratic Russian family and before World War I built up a large collection of Central Asiatic Lepidoptera on which he was considered one of the leading authorities. In 1912 he undertook a zoogeographical expedition from Kashmir in Northern India to Fergana in Usbekistan to study the interpenetration of tropical and Palearctic species. Among the species he described is the beautiful Parnassius charltonius autocrator, in Afghanistan (Gushon Pass). Immediately after the October Revolution in 1917, he left his collection behind at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Petrograd and emigrated to the United States. From 1924 he was Curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; later he became its director which he remained until he retired in 1945. He also held a professorship in the visual arts and exhibited and published water colors and drawings. Together with his student Walter Sweadner he published a revision of the genus Karanasa [Nymphalidae, Satyrinae] found in the arid steppes of Central Asia above 5,000 metres. His entomological chef d'œuvre was published posthumously: The Karanasa Butterflies, a Study in Evolution, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 1951.

*Gift 97; SelLet 21, 103; NabBut 236 (FB), 249 (L), 264; LtVé 336


Bálint, Zsolt (born 1962 in Budapest): Hungarian ethnomusicologist and entomologist. He graduated as a violon­cellist in 1983 and was Research Associate in the Music Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences from 1981 to 1989, publishing several scientific papers on instrumental folk music. He also writes and translates poetry and, in collaboration with his wife Annamária Kertész, he is involved in creating Christian liturgical music based on classical Hungarian traditions. Since 1979 he has also been Research Associate in the Zoological Department of the Hungarian Natural History Museum (HNHM), working on butterflies. In 1997 his Ph.D. dissertation ("The neotropical representatives of the Lycaenid tribe Polyommatini, with special emphasis on the oreal biomes of the South American continent") was defended and he became the Curator of Butterflies at the HNHM. By 2000 he had published almost a hundred scientific papers; also he had translated and written several books on Lepidoptera. So far about fifty polyommatine species and five genera new to science were named by him and his co-workers, Kurt »Johnson (New York), Gerardo Lamas (Lima, Peru) and Dubi Benyamini (Bet Arye, Israel), and many of the new names are based on Nabokov's fiction.


Bang-Haas, Andreas (1846–1925): senior partner in the firm of »Staudinger & Bang-Haas, Dresden-Blasewitz, founded in 1856 and dealing in insects. His son Otto Bang-Haas (1882–1948), himself a lepidopterist, owned and directed the firm after his father's death. In 1926 and 1927, he wrote and published two books by the title Novitates macrolepidopterologicae. They were catalogues of the newly described butterflies not to be found in Seitz' Die Groß-Schmetterlinge der Erde.

*Gift 97


Banks, Nathan (born 1868 in Roslyn, New York, died 1953 in Holliston, Massachusetts): American entomologist, authority on spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites and Neuroptera. Banks graduated in 1889 from Cornell University where in 1890 he also received his MS, in 1896 was appointed to a position with the Division of Entomology of the United States Department of Agriculture and in 1916 changed to the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. There he was made Associate Professor of Entomology in 1928 and Head Curator of Insects in 1941. He retired in 1945. Banks wrote 440 technical papers, was responsible for the MCZ's insect collections, named innumerable species and amassed one of the biggest collections of American insects of the time. Perhaps due to the fact that his specialty was spiders and that he had no interest in Lepidoptera, there was work to do for Nabokov at the MCZ.

*NabBut 277, 696; LtVé 472, 475


Barbour, Thomas (born 1884 in Martha's Vinyard, died 1946 in Boston): American zoologist. Attracted to Harvard by its zoological museum founded by Louis Agassiz, Barbour studied zoology at that university and from his Ph.D. degree in 1911 to his death was associated with the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. From 1927 to his death in 1946 he was its director. He was an authority on the classification of reptiles and amphibians, but wrote profusely on many other subjects of zoology, thinking of himself as an "old-fashioned naturalist … the last of the breed". Of his six popular books, the best known probably is Naturalist at Large (1943). An obituary had this to say about him, "Dr. Barbour was a commanding figure in any gathering, for he was 6 feet 5 inches tall and proportionately stout, weighing in excess of 300 pounds. He did not hesitate to express his ideas, and this he could do in a very trenchant manner. His judgment was excellent and his conclusions generally well taken". It was he who in 1941 offered Nabokov the possibility to do research on Lepidoptera at the MCZ, and Nabokov acknowledged his "sympathy and generosity". In his book A Naturalist in Cuba (1945), Barbour mentioned his colleague working at the lepidopterist's bench: "When I was discussing these beauties [Cuban Urania moths] with my colleague in charge of the collection of Lepidoptera in the Museum of Comparative Zoology the other day, he at once recalled to my mind that lovely passage in Bates's classic The Naturalist on the Amazonas [on the appearance of Urania leilus at dawn]. Let me say first that Vladimir Nabokov has an ear more sensitively attuned to the finest nuances of English prose, both in regard to use as in appreciation thereof, than any foreign-born person I have ever known. And I don't for a moment except Joseph Conrad, with whom he has been compared."

*SelLet 102, NabBut 247, 273, 696, 697; LtVé 482


Baron, Oskar Theodor (1847–1926): German naturalist. The son of a teacher in Upper Silesia, Baron went to sea as a sailor, was shipwrecked near Java and ended up in America where he worked as a geodesist and an engineer, with residence in Mendocino and Alameda, California. As a hobby naturalist he collected birds and insects in the southwestern United States, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru. His valuable collection of rare South American hummingbirds is at the Senckenberg collection in Frankfurt. His capture of Baronia brevicornis Salvin, 1893 [Papilionidae, Baroniinae] was a mighty stroke of luck – the butterfly deserved a genus and a subfamily of its own. Around 1895 Baron returned to Germany, settled in the Silesian town of Mochau and spent the last thirty years of his life as an apiarist. It seems he never published anything and is absent from all reference books, but once he reported on his collecting (Novitat. Zool. 4, 1897), and there was an obituary in Entomologische Zeitschrift, 43, 1929, p. 131.

*Stor:Aur 254


Bates, Henry Walter (1825–1892): British naturalist. Bates made an apprenticeship to operate his father's manufacturing business, became friends with Alfred Russel Wallace on account of his interest in entomology and in Darwin's emerging theory, and in 1848 accompanied Wallace to Pará (today Belem) in Brazil, to explore the workings of evolution in the Amazon basin. Wallace went back after two years, losing most of his collections in a shipwreck, Bates stayed eleven, with headquarters at Ega, collecting some 14,000 specimens, mostly insects, of which about 8,000 proved to be new to science. He returned exhausted and ill of health, but from 1864 to his death served as secretary to the Royal Geographic Society and twice as president of the Entomological Society of London, publishing entomological articles and editing works on travel. With its colorful, lucid and singularly circumspect descriptions of the geography, plant and animal life of Northern Brazil as well as of its people and local history, his account The naturalist on the river Amazons (London, 1864) became a classic. Bates is chiefly remembered as the discoverer of the type of mimicry that bears his name and that he had observed and studied in Brazilian birds and butterflies, especially in Longwings (first described in his paper "Contributions to an Insect Fauna of the Amazon valley. Lepidoptera: Heliconidæ", The Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, 23, 1862, p. 495–566). Batesian mimicry consists in a harmless species imitating the appearance of a noxious one from whose bad reputation among potential predators it profits. The other principal form of mimicry is the Müllerian one, called after the German entomologist Fritz Müller. It consists in several noxious species developing the same appearance in order to gain publicity among predators, so to speak. That Nabokov was thoroughly familiar with Bates' The naturalist on the river Amazonas is clear from a remark by Thomas »Barbour.

*implied Gift 110


Beebe, William (1877–1962): American biologist, explorer and author, from 1919 director of the Department of Tropical Research at the New York Zoological Society and co-inventor of the Bathysphere, a diving sphere for deep sea observation.

*N/W Let #238=196old


Bequaert, Joseph C[harles] (born 1886 in Belgium, died 1982 in Massachusetts): after receiving a Ph.D. in botany from the university of Ghent, Bequaert did entomological field work in the then Belgian Congo and in 1916 emigrated to the United States. Since 1925 he was associated with Harvard: as Assistant Professor in tropical medicine; as Curator of Recent Insects at the MCZ (1945–1951); as Agassiz Professor of Zoology (1951–1956). His specialties were Hymenoptera, ticks, horse flies and mollusks – a long way from Nabokov's interests. It is to him that Nabokov explained what he had done during his years at the MCZ.

*SelLet 102–104


Berge, Karl Friedrich (1811–1883): entomologist in Stuttgart, Germany and author of Das Schmetterlingsbuch oder allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Schmetterlinge und besonders der europäischen Gattungen (Stuttgart: Hoffmann 11863, 81899). This was probably the most comprehensive and widespread butterfly manual of the late nineteenth century. There was an English edition edited by William Forsell Kirby (London:  Cassell, 1882). As is evident from Nabokov's remarks in "Father's Butterflies", Nabokov did not relish those old German Schmetterlingsbücher because they focused on the fauna of Central Europe and largely ignored that of Russia, also because they omitted exceptional butterflies and because their illustrations were of a rather shoddy quality compared to the lovingly hand-painted ones in »Oberthür and »Romanoff. In 1910, the 9th edition of Fr. Berges Schmetterlingsbuch (thus the later title) was revised by Hans »Rebel.

*NabBut 201, 206 (FB)


Biet, Félix (born 1838 in Langres, died 1901 in Paris): Biet was a French missionary who attempted to bring the Roman-Catholic faith to (East) Tibet. He was ordained priest in 1864 and immediately left for Tibet, arriving in Bonga in 1865 where he was attacked by lamas and had to retreat to Yerkalo. There he stayed for about ten years, founding a pharmacy and a lending library. On the death of Joseph-Pierre Chauveau (1816–1877) who, after doing missionary work in Yunnan (China), had been Roman Catholic bishop in Tibet (with the title of Bishop of Sebastopolis), Biet was appointed his successor (with the title of Bishop of Diana) and took residence in Tatsienlu (today Kangding) where Chauveau had lived with six missionaries, all of them expelled from Lhasa. Theirs was a life of hardship and danger. In 1887, the mission stations in Batang, Yaregong and Yerkalo were devastated by local lamas. In 1892, Biet had to leave East Tibet because of ill health, trying stubbornly but unsuccessfully for the rest of his life to enlist his government's support for his endeavors. From East Tibet, he sent c. 2,000 species of animals back to France, many of which proved to be new to science. Charles »Oberthür who received the largest share of Biet's butterflies and moths gave his name to more than a dozen species. Biet also introduced Tibetan rhubarb (a decorative plant) to France. In chapter 2 of The Gift, supreme importance is attached to a butterfly Oberthür had described in a paper on Tibetan Lepidoptera, Esakiozephyrus bieti. The British naturalist A.E. »Pratt visited Biet in Tatsienlu in 1889 and 1890 and said about him: "Bishop Biet, a man with a highly cultivated mind and refined taste, has been here, or rather in the district, for twenty-five years … The last European he saw … was Mr. Baber in 1879, and this is 1889. His brother, also a missionary, was murdered in Manchuria, and here both he and the Fathers have to be extremely cautious even now, for the lamas bear them no goodwill … All the Roman Catholic missionaries had a very hard life … Their food is scarce and often scanty, and their lives are frequently in danger" (To the Snows of Tibet through China, London: Longmans, Green, 1892, p. 135–136). (Cf. also »Dejean, Father).

*implied Gift 354


Blöcker, Hermann (German Fyodorovich Bleker) (born ?, died 1919): lepidopterist in Shitomir who for some time was affiliated with the Zoological Museum of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Petersburg and published on the lepidopterological fauna of the Petersburg region; his type specimens went to the Zoological Museum of that city.

*Gift 95


Boisduval, Jean [Baptiste] Alphonse [Déchauffour] (born 1799 in Ticheville, Normandy, died 1879 in Ticheville): French doctor of medicine, botanist and entomologist, specializing in Lepidoptera and Coleoptera. As he examined the butterflies and moths brought back by the two French navy vessels 'L'Astrolabe' and 'La Coquille,' he became author of many American species, especially from California. His lepidopterological chef d'œuvre are the Icones Historiques de Lépidoptères Nouveaux ou Peu Connus (Paris, 1832 ff.). His collection went to Charles »Oberthür who sold parts of it.

*SpeakM 122


Brown, F[rederick] Martin (1903–1993): American animal physiologist who taught at Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, was director of the Cheyenne Mountain Museum and research associate of the Carnegie Museum and the American Museum of Natural History. His main fields of interest were the butterflies of the Rocky Mountains, the taxonomy of Neotropical pierids and satyrines and the zoogeography of the Andes. He is the principal author of Colorado Butterflies (Denver, Colorado 1957) and co-author of an important work: A Catalogue / Checklist of the Butterflies of America North of Mexico (New Haven, Connecticut, 1981).

*Lep15 e.a.


Butler, Arthur Gardiner (1844–1925): assistant keeper of Lepidoptera at the British Museum (Natural History).

*Gift 121


Caradja, Aristide Prince (born 1861 in Dresden, died 1955 in Romania): landowner and entomologist. Caradja grew up in Germany, studied law in Toulouse, France, and in 1887, after the death of his father, returned to the family estate in the village of Grumăzeşti (near Tirgu Neamţ)  in Romania, about 275 km north of Bucarest, where he devoted a secluded life to entomology. He was also an accomplished pianist who in his student days had studied for two years with Hans von Bülow. His entomological specialties were Microlepidoptera (mainly Pyralidae) and the butterflies and moths of Romania and China (from where a German amateur collector, Hermann Höne, had sent him twice 50,000 specimens). 110,000 specimens of his huge collection (that at times had  consisted of 400,000 items) went to the National History Museum in Bucarest (Muzeul National de Istorie Naturala "Grigore Antipa")  in 1944. He also wrote on biogeography, evolution, migration and speciation and was one of the first to propose that the Lepidoptera originated in subtropical Eastern Asia. (Cf. Wilhelm Knechtel, "La vie et l'œuvre de l'académicien Aristide Caradja", Travaux du Muséum d'histoire naturelle "Grigore Antipa" (Bucarest), vol.II, 1960, p. 37-51.)

*implied NabBut 212 (FB)


Chapman, Thomas Algernon (1842–1921): British physician, expert on the biology of butterflies.

*SpeakM 205; StrOps 60, 334; NabBut 208 (FB); LtVé 249


Chermock, Frank[lin] Hugo (1906–1967): American butterfly collector. Chermock was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, died in Baltimore, Maryland, and did much of his collecting in Manitoba, Canada. His collection meandered to the Allyn Museum of Entomology in Florida.

*SelLet 103; Lep14 484; NabBut 347, 463


Christoph, Hugo Fyodorovich (1831–1894): German-Russian lepidopterist. Born in Germany, Christoph in 1870 went to Sarepta on the lower Volga as a teacher, pursuing his entomological interests on expeditions to Northern Persia, Central and Eastern Asia. From 1880 to his death, Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich »Romanoff employed him as an insect collector on the expeditions he organized. In "Father's Butterflies", Nabokov complained that the old German butterfly atlases largely ignored the Russian fauna and if they did not, were strangely focused on the region of St. Petersburg, Kazan and Sarepta, "most often the last", due to the fact that these "habitats were natural observation centers for the first German entomologists who studied our country". The fauna of Sarepta was Christoph's contribution. That Sarepta was mentioned so frequently may also be due to the fact that there in 1883 the German collector Rückbeil working for the Tancré Trade Company in Anklam had met »Grum[m]-Grzhimaylo and brought back a lot of material.

*Gift 102; NabBut 202


Clench, Harry K[endon] (1925–1979): American lepidopterist. Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Clench studied zoology at the University of Michigan, but even before completing his doctoral work, he became Assistant Curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; from 1953 to his death he was Associate Curator of Entomology at that institution and an expert especially on lycaenids. In 1955, he published his "Revised classification of the butterfly family Lycaenidae and its allies" (Annals of the Carnegie Museum [Pittsburgh], 33, 1955, p. 261–275), a paper tackling a problem which Nabokov had given much thought. His obituary in the Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society (34 [2], 1980) tells this anecdote: in his young days spent at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology where his father had been curator of mollusks he was greatly influenced by Vladimir Nabokov. "He was the source of one of Harry's favorite stories on himself. Harry had agonized over a small 'Thecla' from southern Brasil, and his frustration was well known to Nabokov. One evening Harry left the specimen in a box on his work bench, and went home; the following morning when he returned, Nabokov was nowhere to be seen, but the specimen had a neatly printed determination label on it from Nabokov proclaiming it to be 'Thecla caramba Hewitson'. One has but to know how many Neotropical Theclinae Hewitson described… to imagine Harry's frantic search through the literature to find the original description … It is a tribute to Nabokov's puckish sense of humor that Clench never found the description he sought, because Hewitson wrote no such description. Harry, however, liked the name and adopted it."

*Lep7 87; Lep14 484


Comstock, Jr., John A[dams] (1883–1970): American physician (osteopath), but also an excellent artist and an amateur lepidopterist who published many life history papers and was the driving force in building the lepidopterological collections of the Los Angeles Museum. He was the author of Butterflies of California (Los Angeles 1927, reprinted 1989). When The New Yorker had confused him with John Henry Comstock of Cornell and declined to publish Nabokov's correction, Nabokov wrote (Apr 4, 1957): "The blunder in that article must have grievously hurt the Comstock of California … – a touchy old man whom I respect. The Cornell Comstock … was a much inferior scientist, whose specialty, moreover, was not Lepidoptera."

*SelLet 199, 215


Comstock, John Henry (1849–1931): American entomologist, founder of the Department of Entomology at Cornell University, the first of its kind, author of the widely used textbook An Introduction to Entomology (1924).

*SelLet 199, 215


Comstock, William P[hillipps] (1880–1956): construction engineer from New York City who beginning with the recession in 1932 devoted more and more of his time to his hobby, lepidoptery, becoming Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History and an authority on lycaenids. It was he with whom Nabokov was in touch, Comstock supplying many of the specimens Nabokov examined and conferring Nabokov's name on a skipper from Hispaniola he described, Hesperia nabokovi. At the time Nabokov was in contact with him, Comstock was preparing a sumptuous monograph on his specialty, the butterflies of the genus Anaea (Butterflies of the American Tropics, New York 1961).

*N/WLet #90=77old; SelLet 103


Culot, Jules (born 1861 in Baccarat, died 1933 in Geneva): French naturalist and glass engraver. Many of the excellent plates in »Oberthür's two series are by him. His main work is Noctuelles et géomètres d'Europe: Iconographie de toutes les espèces européennes, Geneva, 1909–1921. There is a modern reprint in 4 volumes (Svendborg, Denmark [Apollo Books] 1987).

*NabBut 205, 308, 309


Dejean, Father: this is not the general and naturalist, Count Pierre-François-Marie-Auguste Dejean (1780–1845) who is well-known in entomology as a collector of Coleoptera and Lepidoptera but who was no cleric and who never went to Tibet or China. The man Nabokov's Pilgram envies so much ("stout-hearted missionary climbing among the rhododendrons and snows, how enviable was thy lot!") is the Roman-Catholic missionary Léonard-Louis (Marie) Déjean (1846–1906). Born in France, he was ordained priest in 1869 and in the following year set out for Tibet. There he served as a secretary to Mgr. Chauveau who sent him to Tatsienlu (today Kangding) where he built a church and became noted for his generosity, giving all he had (and sometimes more than he had) to the poor. He also collected Coleoptera and Lepidoptera which he sent to various European museums. He died in Tibet of typhoid fever. As Nabokov will hardly have known Adrien Launay's Mémorial de le Société des missions étrangères, deuxième partie, 1658–1913 (Paris 1916) which has a short biography he may have come across Father Dejean in Charles »Oberthür's Etudes d'Entomologie. This rare series he may have consulted at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin at the time when he prepared his paper on Pyrenean butterflies (Lep2) and wrote "Pilgram". In several numbers of the series, Oberthür described and figured various Tibetan butterflies and moths, most of which he had received from Mgr. Félix »Biet in "(East) Tibet". Biet had not taken all of these himself but had enlisted a number of other priests and Chinese helpers as co-collectors, among them Déjean. After Biet's return to France in 1892, it was Déjean who went on sending his and his helpers' catches to Oberthür who gratefully acknowledged that he had received several thousands of insects from him and named at least seven of them for him, among them Nymphalis déjeani Oberthür 1894, a nymphalid, and Arthona déjeani Oberthür, 1894, a Zygaenid. Another source on Déjean may have been the British naturalist A.E. »Pratt's travel account To the Snows of Tibet through China (London, 1892). Pratt had met Father Déjean in Tatsienlu in 1889 and 1890, and like him had climbed among the region's "rhododendrons and snows" in pursuit of butterflies. It is most fitting that the author of "Pilgram" / "The Aurelian" should find that "Father Dejean" sounds almost like "Prester John". Prester John was the legendary Christian king of the middle ages whose realm was believed to be just beyond the Islamic empire, either in northeast Africa or southwest Asia. The crusaders longed to join his empire just like Pilgram (and Nabokov) longed to join Father Déjean in his remote collecting ground, and a few years later it was Fyodor Godunov-Cherdyntsev who longed to travel to that eastern kingdom of butterflies

*Stor:Aur 249


Denton: Dr. William Denton, Sr. (1823-1883) was an English geologist and  teacher who, after losing his job because of his revolutionary inclinations in 1848, went to the United States as a lecturer and also traveled worldwide, amassing chaotic collections of fossils and all sorts of natural specimens. In 1867 he settled in what was to become Wellesley, Massachusetts. After his death, his children Willie, Winsford ("Winsie"), Sherman and Carrie tried to bring discipline into their father's and their own wild collections and to make money from it. They had thousands of butterflies, and around 1890, Willie and Winsford formed Denton Brothers Butterflies, with a shop in Wellesley and later also one in London. In addition to Butterfly Wing Jewellery, they manufactured and sold the "Denton Mounts" their brother Sherman (born 1856) had invented and patented: butterfly specimens in a framed berth of plaster covered with glass that successfully catered to the Victorian spirit. When these had fallen out of favor with the public, their granddaughters left the collection to the Wellesley Historical Society where some 1,400 of their butterflies can still be seen. Nabokov who generally did not care for Denton mounts paid a visit to the collection in 1941 in the Denton home on 11 Denton Road: "marvellous specimens, but with catastrophic labels and without localities". *LtVé 456


Dirig, Robert [E.] (born in 1949 at Hancock, New York, in the Catskill Mountains ("where natural history was thrust upon me at every turn"): Dirig went to Cornell University for his degrees (entomology, science and environmental education) and has worked there ever since, writing and teaching about insects and fungi. Since 1973 he has worked on the Karner Blue; in 1979/80 he held a 15-month job as a naturalist and writer with the Pine Bush Historic Preservation Project in Albany. Since 1980 he has been Assistant Curator of Vascular Plants and Curator of Lichens at the Bailey Hortorium and Plant Pathology Herbaria at Cornell, managing a 825,000-specimen collection of dried plants and lichens. "I would describe myself as a naturalist with specializations in Lepidoptera, lichens, and vascular plants, in butterfly conservation (especially the Karner Blue), and in pine barrens habitats, all regionally centered in northeastern North America."

*SelLet 549


Dobzhansky, Theodosius (born 1900 in Nemirov, Russia, died 1975 in Davis, California): Russian-American geneticist and educator. Dobzhansky graduated from the University of Kiev in 1921, was Assistant Professor of Zoology at the Polytechnical Institute of Kiev from 1921 to 1924 and from 1924 to 1927 lecturer in genetics at the University of Leningrad. In 1927 he emigrated to the United States where he was Assistant Professor of Genetics at CalTech from 1930 to 1936, Professor of Zoology at Columbia University from 1940 to 1962 and from 1962 to 1971 professor at the Rockefeller Institute in New York City. He wrote and published profusely, mainly on genetics and the humankind. His pioneering work advocating the transition from a typological to a biologically based understanding of speciation is Genetics and the Origin of Species (1937).

*NabBut 338


dos Passos, Cyril Franklin (1887–1986): the son of a well-to-do New York City attorney of Portuguese descent (and a cousin of writer John Dos Passos), dos Passos studied law and eventually became a partner in the family firm. For a time he was active in the railroad business, becoming president of the Kansas, Oklahoma & Gulf Railway Company; from there he went on to a brokerage firm. Having earned a fortune, he retired in 1928, and on the advice of his wife, Viola Harriet Van Hise, he turned to butterflies (her interest was to be in moths) and, at the age of 41, embarked on a second career in entomology, becoming a specialist in lycaenids, satyrines and nymphalids. In 1936, he was appointed Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, where he remained until a year before his death. He collected himself, worked in taxonomy and bibliography, purchased a number of collections or helped the AMNH purchase them and had a most impressive library of entomology at his "chateau" in Mendham, New Jersey. His butterfly collection, consisting of 65 000 specimens, said to be "the single largest and most complete one of North American butterflies ever made by one individual", went to the AMNH. Cyril dos Passos was one of the important colleagues of Nabokov (Boyd, personal communication).

*NabBut 248, 264, 276, 277, 313, 314, 347, 385, 400, 402, 405, 485


Downey, John C[harles] (born 1926 in Eureka, Utah, retired to Sarasota, Florida): Downey did his undergraduate work at the University of Utah and his graduate work in entomology at the University of California, was professor at the University of Southern Illinois and from 1968 to 1981 at the University of Northern Iowa where he headed the Graduate College from 1981 to 1988. His main specialty is the taxonomy and morphology of lycaenids. His other areas of research include the ecology and behavior of insects, sound and chemical communication in Lepidoptera, eggs and larvae of butterflies, variation and evolution. He is the co-author of The Butterflies of Iowa (2007). He corresponded with Nabokov on butterflies into the 1960s and '70s when he served as secretary to the Lepidopterists' Society.  Kurt »Johnson who was one of Downey's students at both of his universities tells this anecdote: "As a teenager in the late 1940s, driving a truck for the Forest Service in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, Downey happened to encounter a man with a butterfly net walking along a canyon highway, naked to the waist, in shorts, and wearing a knotted handkerchief for a cap. Downey stopped and offered the man a ride, explaining that he was a lepidopterist himself, but he was covered with the dust from the coal he was hauling and the stranger seemed suspicious. Then a butterfly flashed across the highway, and the stranger pointed and asked, 'What's that?' Downey identified the butterfly, and then two more in rapid succession, by their scientific names. Finally won over, the stranger put out his hand and said, 'Hello! I'm Vladimir Nabokov". (Kurt Johnson / Steve Coates: Nabokov's Blues, 1999, p. 97)

*NabBut 450, 717


Draudt, Max (1875–1953 in Darmstadt): German university professor of medicine (surgery) and lepidopterist. Draudt was a specialist in several non-European families of moths and also happened to work on what was to become Nabokov's field of expertise, the taxonomy of S American blues. Draudt was a friend of Adalbert »Seitz, contributed to his Die Groß-Schmetterlinge der Erde and continued it after Seitz' death in 1938. Here, in volume 5 (1921), he had rather casually established the genus Itylos which was to worry »Hemming, Nabokov and »Bálint & »Johnson.

*Lep9 38


Edwards, W[illiam] H[enry] (1822–1909): lawyer, landowner, developer of coalmines, railroad builder and amateur naturalist who was one of the pioneers of North American lepidoptery. His first publication was an account of A Voyage up the river Amazon (Philadelphia 1847). All his expertise went into his beautifully illustrated Butterflies of North America (3 vols., 1872–1897). Nabokov called it "one of the finest works on butterflies ever published". After that, he turned to studies in Shakespeare, disputing the authorship.

*NabBut 259, 261, 263


Eff, [James] Don[ald] (1914–1994): American butterfly collector, in Boulder, Colorado. As his specialties he gave two nymphalid genera (Melitaea Fabricius and Euphydryas Scudder) and Arctic species.

*SelLet 104; Lep14 484


Eisner, Curt (born 1890 in Zaborze / Upper Silesia, died 1981 in The Hague, Netherlands): Berlin businessman (steel trade) who emigrated to the Netherlands in 1936. Together with the Polish entomologist Felix Bryk who was his personal friend, Eisner was considered the leading world authority on parnassian butterflies which he collected and of which he named many. His unique collection is at the Rijksmuseum van Naturlijke Historie in Leiden.

*Aurelian 253


Eliot, John Nevill (born 1912): Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal British Army who served in India and Southeast Asia. After his retirement to Upcott House, Bishop's Hull, Taunton, Somerset he devoted himself to his lepidopterological pursuits. His specialty are Lycaenidae and Hesperiidae of the Oriental fauna region. After setting out to prepare keys for the Oriental Lycaenidae, he found it "impossible to do this in isolation" and decided "to extend my examination in outline to the whole world". This resulted in a re-classification of the whole family of Lycaenidae, "The Higher Classification of the Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera): A Tentative Arrangement" (Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology (London), 28 (6), 1973, p. 371–505). The last section he delineated in this paper was the Polyommatus Section in which Nabokov had done most of his scientific work. These are Eliot's keys to it: "Fore wing with veins 11 and 12 free. Hind wing tailless in Holarctic species but often tailed in tropical species. Battledore scales commonplace, except in Itylos in which the outer margins are excavate or crenulate; in addition 'gelbe schuppe' may be present. Eyes and palpi variable. Male genitalia with lobes of uncus more or less digitate and directed caudad; a suspensorium, comprising a pair of rather weakly sclerotized arms descending from the top of the inner faces of the lateral processes of the tegumen, is nearly always present; penis generally similar to that of the Euchrysops section, with alulae at the zone; in Neotropical species a sagum is nearly always present. Cosmopolitan". After this basic paper Eliot continued to work on the higher classification of Lycaenidae. In 1986 he published a paper on the Oriental tribe Miletini and in 1990 one on the genus Curetis. In it he proposed to reduce the number of lycaenid subfamilies to five: Riodininae, Curetinae, Poritiini, Miletinae and Lycaeninae. In this scheme the traditional subfamilies of Lycaeninae, Theclinae and Polyommatinae present in Europe and North America become tribes of Lycaeninae (Lycaenina, Theclina and Polyommatina). Ackery, de Jong and Vane-Wright (1999) have adopted this classification (J.N. Eliot, "Notes on the genus Curetis Hübner (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae)", Transactions of the Lepidopterological Society of Japan, 41, 1990, p. 201–225).


Elwes, Henry John (1846–1922): British collector and authority on the butterflies of Nepal, Sikkim, western Sibiria and Mexico. His collection is at the British Museum (Natural History) in London.

*Gift 122


Esper, Eugen Johann Christoph (1742–1810): professor at the university of Erlangen and author of Die Schmetterlinge in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen (5 parts, 6 vols. and supplement, Erlangen, 1777–1805) which Nabokov called "noble".

*SpeakM 122; NabBut 579 (BE)


Evans, William Harry ("Brigadier Evans", born 1876 in Shillong, died 1956 in Church Whitfield): Evans was an army officer (brigadier) serving mostly in India and an entomologist who amply documented the butterfly fauna of India. His special interest was in Lycaenidae and Hesperidae. After retiring from active duty in 1931, he moved to London and worked at the Natural History Museum where Nabokov became friendly with him in 1939 . *LtVé 423, 430


von Eversmann, Eduard Friedrich (Alexandrovich) (born 1794 in Westphalia, died 1861 in Kazan): German-Russian physician and naturalist. Eversmann moved to Russia in 1816. In 1820–1821 he worked for the Russian Embassy Mission to the Bukhara Emirate and so became one of the first lepidopterists to penetrate into Central Asia. (He had to disguise himself as an Oriental tradesman.) The dangerous voyage is described in his book Eine Reise von Orenburg nach Buchara (1823). Convinced he could not explore Central Asia the way he had dreamt of, he concentrated on the region between the Volga and the Urals. He was appointed Professor of Zoology and Botany at the University of Kazan, spending the summers on his estate Spasskoye sixty miles northeast of Orenburg where he seems to have been a familiar figure, walking about with a butterfly net. His main publication is Fauna lepidopterologica Volgo-Uralensis (Kazan 1844). His collection is at the Institute of Zoology of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. In "Father's Butterflies", Nabokov complained that the old German butterfly atlases largely ignored the Russian fauna and if they did not, were strangely focused on the region of St. Petersburg, Kazan and Sarepta, due to the fact that these "habitats were natural observation centers for the first German entomologists who studied our country". The fauna of Kazan was Eversmann's contribution, that of Sarepta »Christoph's. It is less clear who the St. Petersburg culprit was, for it so happens that all six naturalists who inventarizied the butterfly fauna of the St. Petersburg region up to c. 1870, that is in the period in question, were Germans or of German extraction, publishing in German. They were Jacob Benjamin Fischer (born 1730 in Riga, died 1793 in Riga), an official at a municipal orphanage of Riga who published Versuch einer Naturgeschichte von Livland (1778); Johann Gottlieb Georgi (born 1729 in Pomerania, died 1802 in St. Petersburg), a pharmacist who published Geographisch-physicalische und naturhistorische Beschreibung des Russischen Reiches (1797–1802) – the butterflies are in Part 3, vol. 7, p. 2074–2119; Carl Heinrich Wilhelm Sodoffsky (born 1797 in Riga, died 1858 in Riga), a physician who authored a Systematisches Verzeichnis der bis jetzt in den Ostseeprovinzen Russlands aufgefundenen Lepidopteren, nebst ihrer Flugzeit (1829); Friederike Lienig geb. Berg (died 1855 in Dresden), a parson's wife who wrote Lepidopterologische Fauna Livlands und Kurlands (1846); Ivan Karlovich »Sievers who compiled a Verzeichnis der Schmetterlinge des Petersburger Gouvernements (Horae Societatis entomologicae Rossiae, 4, 1866–1867, p. 49–77); and J.H. Wilhelm Baron (von) Nolcken, an army officer on the island of Vesel near Riga who published the comprehensive Lepidopterologische Fauna von Estland, Livland und Kurland (Riga: Arbeiten des Naturforscher-Vereins,1868 and 1870–1871).

*Gift 102; NabBut 202


Fabre, Jean-Henri (1823–1915): French entomologist. Fabre was well known for his extensive popular writings on insects, particularly for the ten volumes of his Souvenirs entomologiques (1879/1907). Fyodor Godunov-Cherdyntsev calls them "popular works, full of chitchat, inaccurate observations and downright mistakes" – probably echoeing the opinions of his author.

*Gift 108


Fabricius, Johann Christian (1745–1808): Danish entomologist. The son of a physician at Tønder, Fabricius leisurely pursued his studies in political economy and natural history in Copenhagen, Uppsala (where for two years he did field work with Linnaeus), Leipzig and Leiden. From early on his main interest was the systematics of entomology. Only »Linnaeus himself described more species and genera of insects than did Fabricius. Whereas Linnaeus had classified them solely on account of their wing shape and color, Fabricius, in his Systema Entomologiae (1775) and other writings, attempted to take into account other characteristics as well, especially the organs of manducation. In 1767/68, Fabricius went to Scotland and England and then on to France and Italy. Later he often returned to London for the summer and felt at home there. After his father's death in 1771, he was forced to earn his living as a professor of political economy at the universities of Kiel and Copenhagen, deploring the poor conditions for entomological work there. He died in the middle of preparing a new Systema Glossatorum (system of the butterflies and moths) for publication. In his autobiography, he wrote about himself: "A healthy body, a light heart, and an easy mind, raised me above many troubles. Continued employment in my favorite science [entomology], which is itself inexhaustible, but which I cultivated with much pleasure, and not without success, kept up my ardour in the pursuit, and diffused peace and happiness over the whole course of my life". ("The Auto-Biography", translated from the Danish, with Additional Notes and Observations, by F.W. Hope, Transactions of the Entomological Society of London, 4, 1845, p. 1–16)

*indirectly PaleF 172; NabBut 336


Field, William D[ewitt] (1914–1992): born and educated in Kansas, Field in 1947 joined the United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., as a curator of entomology, a position he held until he retired in 1980. His main interest was in butterfly nomenclature and literature. He wrote a book on the butterflies of Kansas (1940) and 48 papers on various groups of butterflies and moths. During the last years of his life, he worked on a bibliography of Neotropical butterflies with Gerardo Lamas and Richard Robbins.

*SelLet 500–501; NabBut 385


Fischer von Waldheim, Gotthelf I. (born 1771 in Waldheim, Saxony, as Gotthilf Fischer, died 1853 in Moscow): German-Russian naturalist and collector. After graduating from the College of Freiberg, Fischer in 1798 became Professor of Natural History at Mayence. In 1804 he was invited to be a guest professor at the University of Moscow. He stayed and devoted much of his energy to set up the Moscow Museum (Cabinet) of Natural History, which he had to do twice, since the museum collections perished in the Moscow conflagration of 1812. In 1805, he also founded the Imperial Society of Naturalists of Moscow. For a time he was President of the Imperial Academy of Natural History. The bulk of his plentiful scientific writing was on Coleoptera and Orthoptera. His principal publication were the five volumes of Entomographa imperii russici; Genera insectorum systematice exposita (Moskva, 1820–1851). The last volume, dedicated to Nymphalidae, has 61 species known only from Russia at that time. In appreciation of his work towards an understanding of the Russian insect fauna he was awarded the title of a Russian noble and the "von Waldheim" ending.

*Gift 102


Forbes, William T[rowbridge] M[errifield] (1885–1968): instructor and then professor at the Department of Entomology at Cornell University from 1915 to 1953. After his retirement, Forbes continued his work at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. John G. »Franclemont of Cornell called him "the last of the great general workers in the Lepidoptera". Still, his main field was the classification and the geographical distribution of butterflies, especially those of the American tropics and of New York State. He wrote about 150 papers and the monograph Lepidoptera of New York and Neighboring States. Among his other interests were color vision, archaeology and mystery novels. When asked by Andrew Field to tell him something about "your friend W.T.M. Forbes", Nabokov read from his unfinished Speak On, Memory: "When I knew him in the Forties and early Fifties he was a corpulent, carp-shaped, white-whiskered eccentric, with a pink complexion that gradually deepened to a frightening carmine as he pottered about, wearing several layers of wool, in his overheated laboratory among the glass trays with spread butterflies, volumes of entomological journals, remnants of a messy snack, and an accumulation of mystery paperbacks of which he was inordinately fond. He was not a talented scientist but a learned and opinionated one with a prodigious memory for butterfly names and localities, and although taxonomic discussions with him gradually turned into a droning monologue which swept over all the obstacles one tried to to put in its way, it was fun talking to him about Lepidoptera. Unfortunately, he much preferred to propound his views … about more worldly matters such as politics, genetics, 'Niggers and Hebrews,' comic strips, his sister's books and the history of the music hall in America."

*NabBut 46, 273, 383, 407, 408, 673-674


Forster, Walter (1907–1986): German lepidopterist, director of the Zoological Collections of the State of Bavaria in Munich and a specialist on lycaenids. With Theodor A. Wohlfahrt (Würzburg), Forster issued the authoritative Die Schmetterlinge Mitteleuropas (5 vols., 1952–1982).

*StrOps 332; NabBut 56, 310


Fox, Richard M. (born 1911): Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Fox has been associated with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History since 1946, first as Research Associate in the Section of Insects and Spiders, since 1960 as its Associate Curator. Many of his c. 50 publications on butterflies concern the predominantly South American subfamiliy Nymphalidae, Ithomiinae on which he also wrote his Ph.D. dissertation in 1948.

*SelLet 103


Franclemont, John G[eorge] (born 1912 in Buffalo, died May 2004): Professor of Entomology, Cornell University. Franclemont was educated at Cornell (B.S. 1935, Ph.D. [entomology] 1953) and from that time on served on Cornell's faculty, from 1959 as Professor of Entomology and Limnology. His special field of research are Noctuidae, Notodontidae and Arctiidae. He knew Nabokov since the early 1950's and had frequent meetings with him. "I considered [Nabokov] one of the really good field collectors and observers, among the very best … We did not always agree, but we did concur that Karl »Jordan of Tring, England, would rank among the all time greats down through time."

*The Achievements of Vladimir Nabokov, eds. George Gibian / Stephen Jan Parker, 1984, p. 227–228, NabBut 528, 545–546


von Frisch, Karl (born 1886 in Vienna, died 1982 in Munich): Austrian/German zoologist and ethologist, Nobel Prize (medicine/physiology) in 1973. In 1925, Karl von Frisch established the Zoological Institute at the University of Munich where he worked until his retirement (except for several years after the destruction of the institution in World War II). He is best known for his work on the chemical and visual sensors of bees, deciphering the "dance language" they use to communicate to each other the direction and distance of a food source and their orientation by means of polarized light. At the invitation of the Entomological Department of Cornell University, von Frisch visited the United States in 1950. The lectures he gave there were published by Cornell University Press. This is the book mentioned in a note to the Nabokov-Wilson Letters.

*N/WLet #225= 185old


Fruhstorfer, Hans (born 1866 in Passau, died 1922 in Munich): German explorer and collector. As a young clerk in a naturalists' supplies store (Linnaea, Berlin), Fruhstorfer was so fascinated by exotic butterflies that he decided to explore them himself. His first collecting trip took him to Brasil and then to Southeast Asia (Sri Lanka and the Indonesian archipelago, mainly Java, where he stayed for three years). Back in Berlin, he founded a firm that dealt in insects ("specialty exotic butterflies and bugs") and was operated by export merchant A. Grubert (Berlin W 21, Turmstrasse 37, 2nd floor). Grubert himself does not seem to have been a naturalist; before his association with Fruhstorfer, he is listed as a "representative of various local and foreign firms" in the Berlin telephone directory. From 1909 to 1911 Grubert moved the premises of Fruhstorfer's business to the very center of the city (Berlin W 8, Friedrichstrasse 159, 2nd floor) and from 1911 to 1913 just around the corner (Berlin W 8, Unter den Linden 15). This was "Gruber's famous butterfly shop" mentioned in Speak, Memory – famous but short-lived. Nabokov recalls that he used to go there during his four months' stay in Berlin in the winter of 1910/11, asking for newly arrived specimens. Another collecting trip took Fruhstorfer to America, Polynesia, Japan, China and Siam. After giving up his business, he retired to Geneva from where he published his finds in more than 130 papers. Most of Fruhstorfer's large collection is conserved at the British Museum of Natural History in London.

*SpeakM 205; NabBut implied 212 (FB), 580, 583


Golovnin, Vasiliy Mihailovich (1776–1831): Russian navigator, vice admiral of the Russian navy. In his honor a strait between the Kurile Islands and a mountain and a cape on Novaya Zemlya are named. The American lepidopterist William Jacob »Holland (1848–1932) named a West Alaskan butterfly subspecies for him, Parnassius phoebus golovinus [Papilionidae]. In 1817, Nabokov's great-grand­father Nikolai Aleksandrovich Nabokov participated in an expedition led by Golovnin to map Novaya Zemlya ("Nova Zembla"). In consequence, a river on that northern island was named Nabokov's River. The theme of 'Nabokov's Pug,' Nabokov wrote (SpeakM 126), "fits most philosophically into the thematic spiral that began in the wood on the Oredezh around 1919 – or perhaps even earlier, on that Nova Zemblan river a century and a half ago".

*SpeakM 52


Graëlls, Mariano de la Paz (1808–1898): Spanish medic and zoologist, professor of medicine at the Royal Catalan Academy, from 1837 professor of zoology at the Gabinete de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid and director of the Botanical Garden. His main interest was in entomology and fish-farming. In 1849, in the pine forest of Los Llanos on Mount Peguerinos, Sierra de Guadarrama, he discovered the only European Moon Moth, Graellsia isabellae. The story is exactly as Nabokov told it in Father's Butterflies, without however mentioning his name: the physician of the royal family had averted Graëlls to the possible existence of a European moon moth, and one night he went to the Sierra de Guadarrama to look for it. He found it when his dog stopped short in front of a pine stump and barked at the large and striking insect sitting on it. Graëlls named the moth in honor of Queen Isabella II de Borbón.

*NabBut 212 (FB)


Graeser, Ludwig (1840–1913): Assistant Preparator at the Museum of Natural History in Hamburg, Germany. Among the fields he worked on were the biogeography of parnassians and the butterfly fauna of Central Asia and the Amur and Vladivostok regions.



Graves, Philip Perceval (1876–1953): Irish author, journalist and entomologist, well known for many years as the Times correspondent in the Near East. During his travels in the Levant and the Balkans he developed a keen interest in entomology, especially in Lepidoptera and Odonata. He collected in Palestine, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Egypt, England and Ireland. His only considerable paper was one on the butterflies of Palestine and Trans-Jordan published in 1925, say the Proceedings of the Royal entomological Society of London (18, 1954, p. 79). "He was a delightful colleague in the field and, indeed, a charming companion at all times. His memory and his knowledge of world affairs were remarkable and these, combined with his unfailing sense of humour, made him a conversationalist of outstanding character."

*implied Eye 53–54


Grey, L[ionel] Paul (1909–1994): carpenter in Enfield, Maine, and amateur lepidopterist who published around twenty papers on lepidoptery. Most of them dealt with the systematics of North American Argynnini (a tribe of Nymphalidae, Heliconiinae), that is, fritillaries. With Cyril F. »dos Passos, he revised and rearranged the genus Speyeria Scudder, narrowing the genus from 120 down to 14 species. His other specialty were the noctuids (owlet moths) of the northeast. His obituary in the News of The Lepidopterists' Society (5, 1994) remarked, "Paul was the epitome of the amateur lepidopterist to whom the professionals turned for advice". Grey donated his large collection to the American Museum of Natural History.

*SelLet 104; NabBut 347


Grubert, A.: »Fruhstorfer, Hans


Grum[m]-Grzhimaylo, Grigory Efimovich (born 1860 in St. Petersburg, died 1936 in Leningrad): Russian geographer and lepidopterist who undertook several expeditions to Central Asia to explore its geography und geology, botany and zoology. He published his first lepidopterological paper at the age of 21; like Nabokov's forty years later, it was "A few words on the Lepidoptera of the Crimea". In 1883 he went to Sarepta and there met the German collector Rückbeil who persuaded him to explore Central Asia. It so happened that at the same time Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich »Romanoff was thinking of organizing expeditions to Central Asia. After hastily finishing his exams and eager to be on his way, Grum-Grzhimaylo embarked on his first expedition, sponsored by Romanoff. It took him to Lake Karakul in the Pamirs via the Alai, and he brought back 12,000 specimens of 146 species, 30 of them new. His second Pamirs expedition in 1885 led him to the Karateghinsky Mountains and to Darvaz. He returned with 20,000 specimens. After that, he was elected a full member of the Geographical Society. In 1886, he started on his third expedition to the Pamirs-Alai and the Tianshan, reaching Kashgar and collecting 10,000 insects. In 1887, a fourth voyage brought him to the foothills of the Kunlunshan. The results of his four expeditions were summed up in a monograph entitled "Le Pamir et sa faune lépidoptérologique" (Mémoires sur les lépidoptères, vol. 4, 1890), with information about the region's 200 species of butterflies and 92 species of moths. In 1889, Grum-Grzhimaylo set out on yet another expedition. It led him from Kuldsha (today Yining) along all of the northern Tianshan, with a side-trip southward to Turfan, to Hami and then into the Nanshans as far as Sinin (Xining) on the Yellow River; from there he returned around the Kuku-Nor (Qinhai Hu) more or less along the same route. The report on this expedition was to be his chef d'œuvre, A Description of a Voyage to Western China (Opisanie puteshestviya v sapadny Kitai, 3 vols., St. Petersburg, 1896–1907); Nabokov used it as one of the sources for Chapter 2 of The Gift. After that Grum-Grzhimaylo became disenchanted with entomology. One reason may have been that he met with little applause from his colleagues, the other that he objected ever more strongly against his sponsor's (Romanoff's) stipulation that he pass on all his material to him. Boyd 1990 (p. 137) mentions that from 1911 until he left Russia, Nabokov "had dreamed of filling the gap between school and university by a lepidopterological foray in to Central Asia, perhaps with the great naturalist Grigory Grum-Grzhimaylo."

*Gift 97, 121, 139; NabBut 309, 310


Hemming, [Arthur] Francis (1893–1964): British systematicist and lepidopterist. After receiving his education at Rugby and Oxford, Hemming joined the military service, became a Captain in the British Expeditionary Force, was severely wounded in France in 1916 and subsequently appointed to Home Civil Service in the Treasury. Profoundly interested in Lepidoptera from his childhood on, he began publishing on (mostly Palearctic) butterflies in the 1920s, with a marked penchant for taxonomy and nomenclatorial precision. He published a detailed systematic account of the work of Jacob »Hübner and his successors (2 vols., London 1937) and from 1936 to 1957 served as (honorary) Secretary to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. Hemming probably has done more than any other single person to establish nomenclatorial order in butterflies on the generic level and to see that every genus has a proper type-species. His principal achievement is a monograph he completed on the eve of his death: The generic names of the butterflies and their type-species (London: Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology, Supplement 9, 1967). He is the originator of the generic name »Nabokovia.

*implied Eye 53–54; NabBut 64, 402, 538


Hering, [Erich] Martin (1893–1967): Professor of Zoology and curator of the entomological section of the Zoological Museum of Berlin (today: Museum für Naturkunde), author of a catalogue of Central European butterflies and of a monograph on the biology of Lepidoptera.



Higgins, Lionel [George] (1891–1985): British physician (gynaecologist and obstetrician) in Woking, Surrey, with a lifelong interest in butterflies that outgrew being a mere hobby. His specialty was the systematics of Palearctic butterflies. He collected in many countries, amassing a collection of some 35,000 specimens (now at the Natural History Museum in London) and revising a few genera. From 1922 almost to his death, he published some eighty lepidopterological books, papers and notes, among them The Classification of European Butterflies (London, 1975). With Norman Riley, he is the co-author of A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Great Britain and Europe (London: Collins, 1970, 51984), translated into about ten languages and in print far into the 1990s as the standard field guide to European butterflies. Nabokov valued it greatly.

*SelLet 473; Lep22


Hofmann, Ernst (1837–1892): keeper at the Königliches Naturalienkabinett in Stuttgart (today State Museum of Natural History), author of Die Gross-Schmetterlinge Europas (Stuttgart: Hoffmann, 1887, 21894) and Die Raupen der Gross-Schmetterlinge Europas (Stuttgart: Hoffmann, 1893) which were among the standard butterfly atlases of Nabokov's youth. The figures were of mediocre quality, some all right, some summary. In 1897, there was a Russian edition, translated by the Russian entomologist Nikolai Alexandrovich »Kholodkovski who also translated Shakespeare and Goethe's Faust. As is evident from his remarks in "Father's Butterflies," Nabokov in later years did not relish those old German Schmetterlingsbücher because they focused on the fauna of Central Europe and largely ignored that of Russia, because they omitted exceptional butterflies and because their illustrations were of a rather shoddy quality compared to the lovingly hand-painted ones in »Oberthür and »Romanoff. However, Nabokov called Hofmann's book "relatively superior" to the detriment to that of Lampert which, however, has more and mostly much better figures, due to the advances in chromolithography.

*Gift102; SpeakM 122, 123; NabBut 200 (FB), 201 (FB), 206 (FB)


Holland, William J[acob] (1848–1932): American clergyman, educator, zoologist and paleontologist. The son of Moravian missionaries, Holland studied theology, with a keen interest in zoology, became Presbyterian minister, quit in 1891 to become chancellor of Western University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and from 1898 to 1922 was director of the Carnegie Museum which he structured and which has his entomological collection. He travelled in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa and was showered with honors. His Butterfly Book (New York, 1898) was reprinted in numerous editions until 1955 and probably did more than any other publication to make butterflies and collecting them popular in America. Nabokov called it "hopelessly unreliable". Still, for a while he envisaged revising it.

*N/WLet #90= 77old, #101= 119old; NabBut 422


Hormuzaki, Constantin (born 1863 in Chernovchy, died 1937 in Chernovchy): entomologist in Eastern Galicia (formerly an Austrian crownland beyond the Carpathian Mountains, after World War I part of Romania and since World War II part of the Ukraine), Professor of Entomology and Biogeography in Chernovchy. He was an authority on the Lepidoptera of his native Bucovina. *SpeakM 133


Howe, William H[ugh] (born June 18, 1928 in Stockton, California, died August 18, 2009): artist and butterfly collector, specializing in butterfly illustrations, in Ottawa, Kansas. Howe attended the West Coast Institute of Arts and Crafts in Berkeley, graduated in 1951 from Ottawa University, Kansas, and went on to study at the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design. He had a number of one man shows (in 1974 there was one at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington which retained a number of his paintings) and did the butterfly illustrations in several books, notably in The Butterflies of North America (New York: Doubleday, 1975) which Nabokov praised and in Mariposas de Mexico (México D.F., 1984). As his "hobbies" he gave "collecting butterflies (mostly in Mexico) and painting just for fun". About The Butterflies of North America, Nabokov wrote: "William Howe is an admirable illustrator, combining the artistic and the scientific" (letter to Pyke Johnson, December 8, 1975). Cf. http://la88mariposa.freehosting.net/

*SelLet 367, NabBut 717


Hübner, Jacob (born 20 June 1761, died 13 September 1826): craftsman, artist and naturalist in Augsburg, Germany. Hübner came from a family of craftsmen and after he had finished school learnt to be a textile printer in an Augsburg calico weaving mill. This is the job he made his living in throughout his life. He called himself "Desseinateur"; probably he designed textile patterns for the factory where he worked. From 1787 to 1789 he went to the Ukraine as a textile printer. The job left him leisure enough to be a copperplate engraver, a painter and a naturalist. In 1784 he began the study of butterflies and moths, and from 1787 to 1789 he published his first book on them, Beyträge zur Geschichte der Schmetterlinge, in eight volumes, with 64 copper plates hand-painted by himself. With the interest in animals Linné had aroused and the lack of color pictures of them, it was a great success. He admired Ignaz »Schiffermüller's lepidopterological work and became himself what one historian of entomology called "the world's first great lepidopterist". He toppled the view prevalent until then that there are only very few genera of Lepidoptera, establishing more genera himself than probably anybody else and issuing a few of the most complete early catalogues, Sammlung exotischer Schmetterlinge (Augsburg 1806), Verzeichnis bekannter Schmetterlinge (Augsburg 1816) and Sammlung europäischer Schmetterlinge (Augsburg, 1793–1827) which his assistant and publisher, the painter Carl Geyer (1796–1841) completed after his death. He also did books on birds, snails and amoebias. There are two contemporary reprints of a selection of his butterfly and moth figures, Das kleine Buch der Schmetterlinge (Leipzig, 1934 ff.) and Das kleine Buch der Nachtfalter (Leipzig, 1936), both in the series Insel-Bücherei.

*NabBut 205 (FB), 586


Huxley, Sir Julian Sorell (1887–1975): English biologist and writer. Huxley was the eldest son of historian Leonard Huxley; the writer Aldous Huxley (born 1894) was his younger brother. Huxley was fellow and senior demonstrator in zoology at Oxford's New College from 1919 to 1925, Professor of Zoology at King's College London from 1925 to 1927 and Professor of Physiology at the Royal Institute of England from from 1927 to 1935. Later he focused on writing, authoring more than forty books. The most important one may be Evolution: the Modern Synthesis (1942), helping to establish the link between the Darwinian theory of evolution and Mendelian genetics. He was knighted in 1958. (The Huxley Nabokov mentions is he and not the biologist Thomas Henry Huxley [1825–1895], Darwin's "agent-general" and "bulldog" who, in contrast to shy and ailing Darwin himself, enjoyed defending the emerging Darwinian view of nature.)

*NabBut 340


Johnson, Kurt (born July 21, 1946, in Iowa Falls, Iowa): American entomologist. Johnson earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, and one of his two Master's degrees as well as his Ph.D. (in systematics and evolution) from City University of New York. Johnson has published over 100 scientific papers and seven books, principally on hairstreaks, and he is the author of fifty generic names and five hundred species names, mainly in the American Lycaenidae. His most noted achievement was "demonstrating that high Andean and austral South American Lycaenidae derive primarily from lowland South American ancestors (as a result of the Andean uplift) and not from southward migration of superficially similar North American and Eurasian groups as previously thought". In numerous publications he stressed tropical diversity in Latin America, principally "the 'look-alike' phenomenon among New World Lycaenidae wherein many similar different genera of Hairstreaks and Blues look confusingly alike in external features (due either to mimicry or mating by scent instead of pattern recognition)". From 1993 onward, in the course of revising the South American Polyommatinae, Johnson and his Budapest co-worker Zsolt »Bálint reconsidered Nabokov's genera and bestowed 'Nabokovian' names on some thirty new species (see in Section 1). Together with Steve Coates he wrote Nabokov's Blues: The Scientific Odyssee of a Literary Genius (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999), detailing the quest for a new and comprehensive taxonomy of South American blues. For some years he was Research Associate in the Entomology Department of the American Museum of Natural History. He lives in New York City and, according to Wikipedia, also became a significant figure, and writer-lecturer in comparative religion, spirituality, consciousness and integral studies, having continued as a Christian monastic for a number of years during his active scientific career and thereafter continuing as a seminary professor, writer and guest lecturer.


Jordan, Karl (born December 7, 1861 in Almstedt near Hildesheim, died January 12, 1959 in Tring): English entomologist of German stock. Jordan began as a school teacher in Germany and then went to England to pursue his entomological interests. He became long-time director of the famous private Zoological Museum that Walter »Rothschild set up in Tring Park, Hertfordshire, thirty miles northwest of London (today part of the Natural History Museum). He also edited the journal Novitates Zoologicae from 1894 to 1939. His scientific specialty were Coleoptera. Together with Rothschild he undertook a revision of the Papilionidae and Sphingidae. With the entomologist John J. »Franclemont of Cornell Nabokov agreed that Jordan was "one of the all the time greats [of entomology] down through time".

*Achievements of VN 228


Kardakoff, Nikolai Ivanovich (born January 1, 1885 in Kardakovskaya, probably near Wyatka, Northeastern Russia, died March 7, 1973 in Berlin): Kardakoff explored the Ussuri region between 1916 and 1921 when he left the Soviet Union and moved to Berlin (Lichterfelde-Süd). There he was associated with the German Entomological Museum and Institute of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society at Berlin-Dahlem (Gosslerstrasse 20) where he became head of the Lepidoptera Section in 1934. (For safety reasons, the collections, library and archive of that institution were moved to Mecklenburg during WWII and are now in Müncheberg/Brandenburg, largely intact.) Some records of the Museum claim that in 1941 or 1942, at the beginning of Nazi Germany's Russian campaign, Kardakoff was sent to Russia as an interpreter for the SS and that he perished there. This, however, is not true. In 1943 he was still in Berlin, living in Schwelmer Strasse 18, Berlin-Lichterfelde. For private reasons he was unable to accompany the Museum to Mecklenburg and found a job as assistant preparator and later Wissenschaftlicher Assistent (fellow) at the Berlin Museum of Natural History, working for Martin »Hering. In the files of this institution (Zool. Mus., S I, Personalakte Kardakoff, N.) there is an affidavit issued in 1946 by the Soviet Komandantura of Berlin, stating that Kardakoff in his youth had attended the Russian Military Academy and been kidnapped by "Kolchak agents" (i.e., anti-Bolshevists) to Vladivostok where he had worked as "hunter, scribe and meteorologist" from the fall of 1919 to May 1920 but that he was politically without reproach and no "enemy of the people". Only with this affidavit was Kardakoff able to resume his work at the Museum of Natural History in post-war Berlin. In 1951, he retired because of ill health. In 1953 he published at his own expense a Catalogue of the Banknotes of Russia and the Baltic States 1769–1950 (in Russian) that seems to have earned him a lasting renown in collectors' circles.  He died in 1973 and lies buried in the Parkfriedhof Lichterfelde. Kardakoff published one study on the Lepidoptera of the Ussuri basin in the journal of the German Entomological Institute: "Zur Kenntnis der Lepidopteren des Ussuri-Gebiets", 2 parts, Entomologische Mitteilungen, 17 (4), 1928, p. 261–273, 17 (6), 1928, p. 414–425. In this paper, 29 new taxa from the Ussuri region are described. According to Brian Boyd, Kardakoff was Nabokov's "entomologist friend" who on April 22, 1926 took him to the Entomological Institute where he met the lepidopterist »Moltrecht. Nabokov signed the visitors' list as 'Dr. Nabokoff'.

*VNRY 259, 291; NabBut 120, 121, 122; LtVé 64


Kholodkovski, Nikolai Aleksandrovich (born 1858 in Irkutsk, died 1921 in Petrograd): Professor of Zoology at the Military Academy of Medicine in St. Petersburg. A prolific author in many areas of entomology, Kholodkovski's persisting area of specialty was the morphology and anatomy of insects, especially the genitalia of Lepidoptera. His magister thesis (1886) was on The male genitalia of Lepidoptera: a comparative-anatomical analysis. He published 168 scientific textbooks and papers and also translated into Russian Shakespeare, Goethe's Faust, »Hofmann's Die Gross-Schmetterlinge Europas (1897) and ("so poetically and ridiculously", said Nabokov) the three-volume Das Tierleben der Erde by Wilhelm Haacke and Wilhelm Kuhnert, Berlin: Oldenbourg, 1901. The Russian title was Zhivotnyi mir, St. Petersburg (A.F. Debrien) 1901, 1902.

*Gift 95; NabBut 171, 201


Klots, Alexander B[arrett] (1903–1989): American entomologist. Klots graduated from Cornell, was Professor of Biology at the City College of New York and Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History. His main fields were the systematics, zoogeography and ecology of Lepidoptera, his specialties were the genus Boloria in the butterflies and the Crambinae and Pyralidae in the moths. He is the author of A Field Guide to the Butterflies of North America, East of the Great Plains (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1951 ff.) that Nabokov called "the finest book on American butterflies" since »Scudder's monumental work of 1889 and The World of Butterflies and Moths (New York, 1958).

*N/WLet #228=188; SelLet 103, 119; Lep17; Lep19


Kozlov, Pyotr Kuzmich (1863–1935): Russian explorer of Central Asia and Nikolai »Przhevalski's favorite disciple. Kozlov was "discovered" by the famous explorer when as a young man he was working at a distillery on Przhevalski's estate of Sloboda, near Smolensk. He accompanied Przhevalski on his last two expeditions to N Tibet, and, after Przhevalski's death in 1888, traveled with Pevtsov (1889-90) and »Roborovski (1893-95) before he came to lead several expeditions of his own, mainly to Mongolia, Amdo and Kham. Interested also in archeology, he did field work at the "dead city" of Khara-Khoto. Kozlov was the only of Przhevalski's men who ever came to see the Dalai Lama, in 1905 interviewing him not in Lhasa but in Urga (Ulaan Baatar).

*Gift 66


Kretschmar, C.A. (1804–1874): tobacco merchant and amateur lepidopterist in Berlin (Brunnenstrasse 129) who was a correspondent of Julius Lederer and around 1860 published several articles in the Berliner entomologische Zeitschrift. For him the protagonist of Kamera obskura is named 'Bruno Kretschmar' (Autographa excelsa). When transforming this novel into Laughter in the Dark, Nabokov changed his name to 'Albert Albinus'. When in Chapter 11 Albinus/Kretschmar does not want to give away his real name, he adopts the name 'Schiffermiller,' the second entomologist's name of the novel (»Schiffermüller), the third one being »Lampert.

*Kamera obskura; SpeakM 134


Dr. Krolik: the invented "local naturalist" of Ada, "Ada's beloved lepidopterist". The name is Russian and means 'rabbit'. His cousin is "the gynecologist Seitz (or 'Zayats,' as she transliterated him mentally since it also belonged, as Dr. 'Rabbit' did, to the leporine group in Russian pronunciation)". »Seitz is a well-known German lepidopterist; zayats is Russian for 'hare'. As "Darkbloom" noted, "for some obscure but not unattractive reason, most of the physicians in the book turn out to bear names connected with rabbits". Krolik's name may be an allusion to Russian lepidopterist Leonid Konstantinovich »Krulikovski in whose name is also a rabbit.

*Ada 8, 230, 591, passim


Krulikovski, Leonid Konstantinovich (born 1864 in Sarapul, Vyatka Province, Northeast Russia, died 1930 in Kiev, Ukraine): Russian entomologist. Krulikovsky began his entomological activities by exploring the fauna of his native province and then went on to collect in the vicinity of Kazan, in West Siberia, in the Perm, Ufa and Saratov Provinces and in East Siberia. He published profusely on Russian insects, especially Rhopalocera and Diptera. His collections are at the Zoological Museum of St. Petersburg and at the University Museum in Kiev (especially his East Russian Lepidoptera). Krulikovsky is the author of a butterfly Nabokov mentioned in his paper on Crimean butterflies (Lep1), Euchloe ausonia volgensis Krulikovsky 1897. "This is a common butterfly in the parks and gardens of the coast." At the time, however, Nabokov did not know Krulikovsky was the author, calling his capture Euchloe belia var. uralensis (belia was an error on Nabokov's part and uralensis a junior synonym of volgensis).

*indirectly Ada, passim


Kuznetsov, Nikolai Yakovlevich (born 1864 in St. Petersburg, died 1948 in Leningrad): Russian lepidopterist working at the Zoological Museum of the Academy of Sciences in his native city from 1905 to his death in 1948. Between 1915 and 1929, his entomological work was interrupted. He was an authority on insect physiology, the taxonomy of Lepidoptera and especially on Palearctic pierids and the butterfly fauna of the district of Pskov. During World War I, he published what Nabokov, in Lep8, called his masterpiece, "unsurpassed by any other general survey of the morphology of Lepidoptera", Nasekomye cheshuekrylye (Petrograd 1915). There is an English translation: Fauna of Russia and Adjacent Countries – Lepidoptera (Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem 1967). Kuznetsov's chef d'œuvre is Osnovy fiziologii nasekomych (Fundamentals of Insect Physiology) (2 vols., Moskva, 1948, 1953). His collection is at the Zoological Museum of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.

*Gift 129; SpeakM 133; Lep8 112; NabBut 302


Lampert, Kurt (born 1859 in Ippesheim/Franconia, died 1918 in Stuttgart): high school professor of biology who also served on the board of directors of the Königliche Naturaliensammlung in Stuttgart (today State Museum of Natural History). Lampert wrote on Darwinism, zoology and mainly on butterflies and was the author of one of the foremost butterfly manuals of the turn of the century, Großschmetterlinge und Raupen Mitteleuropas unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der biologischen Verhältnisse (Esslingen: Schreiber, 1907). The family doctor's name in Laughter in the Dark is 'Lampert' – the third entomologist's name in this novel (the others are »Kretschmar and »Schiffermüller). The 'Lamprecht' in the typescript of "Father's Butterflies" may be a conflation of Lampert and »Moltrecht. Nabokov in later years was not enthusiastic about any of the old German Schmetterlingsbücher and called Lampert's "frankly primitive". However, as most of the figures are plainly better than those in Hofmann's handbook which Nabokov called "relatively superior," Nabokov here must have had Lampert's Kleines Schmetterlingsbuch in mind (Esslingen: Schreiber, 1912), for in his his big atlas they are in no way inferior to Hofmann's.

*NabBut 201


Latreille, Pierre André (1762–1833): Professor of Entomology in Paris and curator at the Musée Nationale d'Histoire Naturelle.

*NabBut 336


Le Cerf, Ferdinand (born 1881 in Paris, died 1945 in Paris): a French entomologist specialized in lepidoptera working at the entomological laboratory of the Muséum national de l'histoire naturelle in Paris. He wrote three volumes on Lepidoptera in the Encyclopedie Entomologique (Lechevalier Paris 1926, 1927, 1929) and numerous scientific papers in the Bulletin of the Société entomologique de France. His collections are in the Muséum.

*LtVé 249, 430


Leech, John Henry (born 1862 in Cheshire, died 1900 at Hurdicott House near Salisbury): a well-to-do British butterfly enthusiast with an Eton education who organised and undertook several collecting expeditions. The first one (1884) led him to South America, the second (1885) to Morocco, the Canary Islands and Madeira, the third (1886) to China, Japan, Corea and the Kurile Islands, the fourth one (1887–1889), partly in company of Lionel de Nicéville and the explorer and dealer A.E. »Pratt, to the NW Himalayas (where at an altitude of 6,000 m he found Parnassius charltonius), W China and the Chinese-Tibetan border region. His principal work is Butterflies from China, Japan, and Corea (London, 1892/94). In The Gift, Nabokov makes him a collaborator of Fyodor's father.

*Gift 102


de Lesse, Hubert (1914–1972): French entomologist, curator at the Musée National de l'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. De Lesse's specialty were Lycaenidae and the genus Erebia, mainly their karyology and taxonomy.


Linnæus, Carl Nilsson (born May 23, 1707, died January 10, 1778), from 1761, after his ennoblement, Carl von Linné: Swedish physician, botanist and zoologist, the founder of modern taxonomy. Linnaeus studied biology and medicine, began to practice medicine in Stockholm in 1738 and from 1741 was professor at the university of Uppsala, first of medicine, then of botany and natural history. He also was one of the founders and the first president of the Swedish Academy of Sciences. His special interest always was in botany; he thoroughly explored the flora of Lapland and Sweden. He also was an "inveterate classifier", and his Systema naturae (first edition 1735, first edition containing animals 1758) systematized both the plant and the animal kingdom and became the basis of modern taxonomy, introducing the binomial nomenclature in botany and zoology.

*Gift 112, NabBut 134, 228, 449, 574, 616, 683


Lintner, Joseph Albert (1822–1898): New York State Entomologist and member of the New York State Museum in Albany, one of the first persons to notice the Karner Blue in the Pine Brush Barren north of Albany.


Matsumura, Shonen (1872–1960): the leading figure in Japanese entomology. After studies in Sapporo and Berlin, Matsumura was Professor at the University of Hokkaido from 1902 to 1934. He was President of the Entomological Society of Japan from 1935 to 1936, and in 1937 he founded the journal Insecta Matsumurana which he edited for 17 years and which still exists. His main specialty were Lepidoptera, Hemiptera and economic insects, but he worked in the whole field of entomology, publishing 35 books and 240 papers. His main work is Thousand Insects of Japan (12 vols., 1904–1921). Referring to his work on Lycaeides, Nabokov called him "as incompetent as he was prolific".

*Lep14 484


McDunnough, J[ames] H[alliday] (1877–1962): Canadian entomologist, according to Ferguson 1962 "one of the prominent figures in systematic entomology for half a century … perhaps the leading authority on this continent in … Lepidoptera and Ephemerida". McDunnough studied violin with Josef Joachim in Berlin and then abandoned professional music to devote himself to entomology which he studied in Berlin. Back in America, he collaborated with William Barnes and then became head of the division of systematic entomology at the Canadian National Collection in Ottawa, Ontario. After his retirement in 1946, he was Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. McDunnough named more than 1,500 species, among them »Eupithecia nabokovi.

*SpeakM 126; SelLet 102; Lep14 484


Mayr, Ernst Walter (born July 5, 1904 in Kempten, Germany, died February 3, 2005 in Bedford, Massachusetts): German-American zoologist (ornithologist) and evolutionist philosopher. Mayr received his Ph.D. from the University of Berlin in 1926 and emigrated to the United States in 1931. From 1931 to 1953 he was research associate, then associate curator and finally curator at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City and from 1953 to 1975 (after Nabokov's time there) Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University. From 1961 to 1970 he also directed the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ). He retired in 1975 but went on publishing; his last book is This is Biology (1997), an excellent, no-nonsense introduction for strangers in the field. His work had a strong theoretical inclination and was most influential in establishing the modern Neo-Darwinian view of evolution. His two pioneering books are Systematics and the Origin of Species (1942) and Animal Species and Evolution (1963).

*NabBut 338, 339, 340, 345, 651


Ménétriès, Édouard (Eduar Petrovich Menetriz) (born 1802 in Paris, died 1861 in St. Petersburg): French-Russian entomologist. While studying medicine, Ménétriès' (the accents are usually omitted or misplaced in various ways) interests shifted towards natural history. For a while, he worked at the museum of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. Then Alexander von Humboldt inspired him to become assistant to the Academician Langsdorff. (Grigori Ivanovich Langsdorff, born 1774, was an explorer, naturalist, ethnographer, botanist and lepidopterist. In 1812, he was appointed General Consul of Russia in Rio de Janeiro. In 1828, on one of his expeditions into the interior of Brazil from which he brought back specimens he sent to St. Petersburg, he contracted a severe form of malaria which caused the loss of his memory. He died in 1852.) From 1821 to 1826, Ménétriès joined Langsdorff and went on expeditions with him into Brazil and to the Antilles. In 1826 he returned to Europe and began to sort out his own collections and those at the St. Petersburg 'Kunstcamera' which later became the Zoological Museum of the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences, remaining its curator until his death. In 1855, Ménétriès was made Associate Member of the Academy. He was "the first professional entomologist" in Russia (Guide to the Butterflies of Russia, 1997). His museum work he interrupted only once, for an expedition to the Caucasus in 1829/30. Among the many new taxa he described, twenty of them butterfly species, are Parnassius eversmanni, Parnassius stubbendorfii and Erebia edda. His collection is at the Institute of Zoology of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.

*Gift 102


Merian, Maria Sybilla (born 1647 in Frankfurt, died 1717 in Amsterdam): born into a family of engravers and book dealers (her father was Matthäus Merian, the Swiss engraver who is most famous for his post-medieval townscapes), Merian became a painter herself, working in Nuremberg, Frankfurt and the Netherlands and specializing in nature studies – flowers, caterpillars, insects and especially butterflies. In 1699 she went to Surinam for two years to study the local insect fauna. The outcome of this voyage was to be her best known work, the sixty plates of Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (Amsterdam, 1705); Nabokov spoke of its "lovely plates".

*SpeakM 122


Moltrecht, Arnold Kristian Alexander (1873–?): Russian physician and naturalist of Baltic German extraction to whom Nabokov was introduced by his "entomologist friend" Nikolai »Kardakoff in 1926. In a letter to his mother, Nabokov wrote about Moltrecht the following day: "Yesterday I was with Kardakov at the Entomological Institute in Dahlem. There I met one famous scientist, who spoke so wonderfully, so touchingly, so romantically about butterflies, that tears came right into my eyes … I fell utterly in love with this old, fat, red-cheeked scientist, watched him with a dead cigar in his teeth as he casually and dextrously picked through butterflies, cartons, glass boxes, and thought that only two months ago he was catching huge green butterflies in Java … And all this in a guttural Russian (he is of German stock), with a wheeze, as he chews his cigar and clicks his fat fingers – and with such love. Oh it was so good, mummy … I will go back and bliss out again in a few days" (April 23, 1926). Unfortunately there is little and conflicting information about Moltrecht. According to an article on him by M. Chigrinski published in On the development of medicine and physical education at the University of Tartu (Tartu, 1983, pp. 143-152), he was born on August 15, 1873 at the village of Matiya (Mätja, parish Leisi, on the island of Saaremaa?) in then Livland; his father was a local Protestant minister. From 1893 to 1899 he studied medicine at the University of Tartu (Dorpat) in what is now Estonia, specializing in ophthalmology. Between 1890 and 1895 he collected Lepidoptera in his native country. In 1902 he went as a doctor with the Temporary Immigration Service to the Amur and Ussuri regions of easternmost Russia. Before World War I he undertook collecting expeditions to Taiwan (1908/09), Yunnan in China, Japan and Corea. Until about 1930, he seems to have lived mainly in Vladivostok. In 1929, he published a complete catalogue of the Lepidoptera of the region (Ueber die geographische Verbreitung der Macrolepidopteren des Ussuri- und Amur-Gebietes, Vladivostok, 1929, in Russian and German), listing 170 species. It included 35 species and subspecies discovered by Moltrecht himself between 1905 and 1929; five, described by others, bear his name, among them a Limenitis moltrechti  Kardakoff. Records become confused after 1929. According to Chigrinski, he died of typhus "in the east … in the early 30s". However, the Deutsches Entomologisches Institut went on listing him as its correspondent, giving his name as 'Alexander A. Moltrecht' and stating that he was a practicing physician in Bayreuth. In 1949 there was  an article on the fauna and flora of the Ussuri and Amur regions in the Senckenberg journal Natur und Volk by 'Alexander A. Moltrecht' (which may have been written long before, even before World War II). In it the author said that as a young doctor and zoologist he had had the good fortune to spend some time in the unexplored virgin forest of the Ussuri bassin. So did Moltrecht leave the Soviet Union after 1930 and settle in Germany? At the Entomological Institute of the University of Hamburg, there is (or rather was) a handwritten unpublished entomological manuscript by Moltrecht dispatched from Königsberg at the end of 1944 and addressed to professor Georg Warnecke, the well-known Hamburg lepidopterist. The Khaborovsk entomologist Evgeni Vladimirovich Novodmodnyi has been able to ascertain that Moltrecht in the mid-30s was imprisoned in Vladivostok by the NKVD as an "enemy of the people" but released in 1936. Covering his tracks, Moltrecht fled to the Ukraine, possibly to his friend Georgi Kochubei in Smela. When the German armies occupied most of Ukrainian territory in 1941, Moltrecht may have been able reach Germany. His specialty was geometer moths. His collections are at the museum of Primorsk, others went to the Deutsches Entomologisches Institut in Berlin, to »Oberthür and to »Staudinger.

*NabBut 120–121 (L), 207 (FB)


Müller, Fritz, sometimes Mueller-Desterro (born March 3, 1822 near Erfurt, died May 21, 1897 in Blumenau, Brazil): Müller, a parson's son, studied mathematics and natural science at the universities of Greifswald and Berlin but did not continue to receive his Ph.D. because, being an enthusiastic Darwinist and an atheist, he rejected the religious formula of the oath he would have had to take. Instead, in 1852 he and his wife emigrated to Brazil, where he worked as a farmer and a naturalist, sometimes in the service of the state, sometimes as a freelancer. He died impoverished in the "German" town of Blumenau, Brazil. Prolific in several languages, he wrote about 250 articles on his nature observations and studies, mainly on crustaceae and insects,  but only one book entitled "For Darwin" (1864). In an article published in 1878, he offered an explanation of mimicry in butterflies that differed from »Bates' and that upheld as well: several noxious species may have acquired a similar aposematic (warning) look (e.g., some strikingly colorful wing pattern) so that a predator, bird or reptile, who has sampled one of them is likely to avoid them all in the future. This saves those species losses which they would have incurred had the predator sampled them one by one ("Über die Vortheile der Mimicry bei Schmetterlingen", Zoologischer Anzeiger 1, 1878, p. 54–55).


Newman, Edward (1801–1876): English allround naturalist who besides on butterflies wrote on ferns and birds' nests. His principal works are An Illustrated Natural History of British Moths (London, 1869) and An Illustrated Natural History of British Butterflies and Moths (London, 1871), with engravings by John Kirchner. The engravings were in black and white, and in his copy of the book, Nabokov as a boy colored many of them. The copy has survived at the St. Petersburg Zoological Museum and on the title page bears the inscription "coloured by W. Nabokow".

*SpeakM 122


Grand Duke Nikolay Mihailovich: his entomological work was published under the name »Romanoff.


v. Nolte: the discoverer of »Erebia flavofasciata Heyne, 1895. Nothing is known about the man except what Nabokov noted for "The Butterflies of Europe": "The first specimen was taken in July 1893 on that romantic pass [Campolungo, near Fusio] by a German lieutenant colonel a certain von Nolte, a mysterious traveller whom as a child I envied and venerated with poignant unforgettable force". This information without doubt stems from the OD of the butterfly by Alexander Heyne, in Die palaearktischen Grosschmetterlinge und ihre Naturgeschichte, part 1: Tagfalter, Leipzig: Heyne, 1895, p. 805. The only additional information to be found there is that v. Nolte was a retired lieutenant colonel, that the exact date of his discovery was July 8, 1893 and that he must have been an experienced collector. His name, however, does not come up in the entomological literature of the nineteenth century which has more or les complete bibliographies, nor does he seem to have left any books. The 'von Nolte' family is Prussian gentry stemming from the Baltic States and domiciled mostly in Brandenburg. The members that have left a record in genealogical surveys were Prussian army officers.

*NabBut 212 (FB), 591 (BE)


Obenberger, Jan (born 1892 in Prague, died 1964 in Prague): entomologist and university professor in Prague, working at the National Museum of that city. His special field of interest was Coleoptera. Nabokov visited the museum and saw Obenberger during his stay in Prague in May, 1930. "They showed me their excellent collections, not of course as full as in Berlin, though you can't say that to the Czechs …"

*NabBut 148 (L)


Oberthür (sic), Charles (born 1845 in Rennes, died 1924 in Rennes): French lepidopterist who also owned a printing shop in his home-town Rennes; his publications are noted for their carefully executed plates. There are two series, Études d'entomologie (1876–1902) and Études de lépidoptérologie comparée (1904–1925), with articles by him and others. Many of the excellent plates are by Jacques »Culot. Oberthür was a pioneer in the exploration of North African Lepidoptera. The numbers 9 to 11 of his first series contain a number of ODs of Tibetan butterflies; one of their collectors is Father »Dejean of "Pilgram"/"The Aurelian". One of these butterflies figures prominently in The Gift (»Esakiozephyrus bieti). His collection went to the British Museum, except for the Nearctic type specimens which (via Barnes) went to the National Museum of Natural History. In number 11 of Oberthür's first series (1886/1887, p. ix), there is a sort of (decidedly pre-Darwinian) confession: "Le but auquel tendent les Naturalistes, c'est la connaissance des espèces si nombreuses d'êtres différents que l'infinie puissance de Dieu a répandues sur la terre; c'est aussi la connaissance des lois qui régissent les variations des espèces et leurs modifications, suivant les circonstances résultant pour elles des lieux où les conduisent leurs migrations; c'est encore la connaissance de la classification par laquelle la suprême Intelligence a groupé et ordonné les espèces."

*Gift 102; NabBut 203 (FB), 207 (FB); LtVé 249


Pallas, Peter Simon (1741–1811): born in Berlin, Pallas lived in Russia from 1767 and headed a number of entomological research trips to the Volga region, the Urals and the Caspian Lowlands organized by the Russian Academy of Sciences. According to the Guide to the Butterflies of Russia (1997), he was "the first real scientist who studied the butterflies of Russia on a larger scale" and thus the founder of Russian lepidopterology. In his Reise durch die Provinzen des Russischen Reiches (1771), he described a number of new species, among them Carterocephalus palaemon (Chequered Skipper), Heteropterus morpheus (Large Chequered Skipper), Argyronome laodice (Pallas's Fritillary), Everes argiades (Short-tailed Blue) and Scolitantides orion (Chequered Blue).

*NabBut 606, 611


Portschinsky, Yosif Aloizievich (born 1848 near Charkov, died 1916 in St. Petersburg): Portschinsky (sic – his own transcription) was a St. Petersburg entomologist who wrote about forty papers between 1870 and 1900, most of them on Diptera (flies). He is the author of a study on the butterflies and moths of the St. Petersburg region and of a 500 page study, in Russian, on the "Lepidopterorum Rossiae biologia", the biology of the butterflies and moths of Russia, published between 1885 and 1896 in Horae Societatis Entomologicae Rossicae (St. Petersburg). Parts II to V are titled "Chast chetvertaya: Predosteregayushchaya okraska i glazchatiya pyatna, ikh proiskhozhdenie i istochnika / Coloration marquante et taches ocellées, leur origine et leur développement". In these four articles (vol. 25, 1890–1891; vol. 26, 1891–1892; vol. 27, 1893, p. 139–224; vol. 30, 1895–1896, p. 358–428), especially in the third one, he put forth the hypothesis that the eyespots of butterflies and moths are not meant to resemble eyes at all but drops of poison. When speaking about mimicry and cryptic disguises, Nabokov repeatedly mentioned this hypothesis. It is discussed under »Cerura vinula.

*NabBut 311


Potanin, Grigoriy Nikolaevich (1835–1920): Russian geographer and ethnographer who undertook several expeditions to Mongolia, China and Tibet, bringing back a number of new Lepidoptera.

*Gift 121


Pratt, A[ntwerp] E[dgar] (born 1852 in Ryde, Isle of Wight, died c.1920, probably also on Wight): British traveler, naturalist and collector. There are no obituaries and no biographical data. According to his great-grandson Iain Mathewson (London), his father was Charles Pratt (born 1810) in Hampshire who married Alice Spanner, the daughter of a Ryde grocer with whom he had three children. A.E. (as he liked to abreviate his name) was the third one. What else is known about him is what is found in his tw0 books, To the Snows of Tibet through China (London: Longmans, Green, 1892, reprint Taipei: Ch'eng Wen, 1971, and Delhi: Mittal, s.a.), and Two Years among New Guinea Cannibals (London: Bell & Sons, 1906). Here he says: "In the course of thirty years of almost continuous journeyings in both hemispheres, it has been my fortune to stray far from the beaten tracks and to know something of the spell and the mystery of the earth's solitudes. My work in quest of additions to the great natural history collections, both public and private, of England, and to a less extent of France, has led me to the Rocky Mountains, the Amazons, the Republic of Colombia, the Yangtse gorges, and the snows of Tibet; but it is safe to say that none of these has aroused my interest and curiosity in so great a degree as the scene of my latest and my next expedition, the still almost unexplored Papua, second largest of the world's islands, and almost the last to guard its secrets from the geographer, the naturalist, and the anthropologist." To China and East Tibet he traveled from 1888 to 1890, at first in company of his wife whom he sent back to England when the boat voyage up the Yangzi become too cumbersome and dangerous. He reached Tatsienlu (Kangding) twice, in the summers of 1889 and 1890. From John Henry »Leech's book it appears that Leech commissioned Pratt's collecting trip to "East Tibet". Pratt himself does not say so but dedicated his first book to Leech. To New Guinea he went in 1891, taking his sixteen year old son along. In the 1892 Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, there is a note saying that he had set out on an expedition across S. America starting at Belém (Brasil) that was to last two or three years. Gerardo Lamas found out that in 1912 he collected butterflies in Peru for J. J. Joicey. Pratt was a member of the Royal Geographical Society from 1881 on. As his correspondence with the RGS stops in 1920, one may assume that he died at that time. Since Tatsienlu, its rocks and rhododendrons and Father Dejean are mentioned not only in The Gift but already in The Aurelian, Nabokov must have read Pratt's first book before writing this story, that is before the summer of 1930. There was a copy in the Prussian State Library in Berlin available until a few years ago. It had a faint pencil mark at Tchöng-tsäo (see under Esakiozephyrus bieti and Hepialus armoricanus). How did Nabokov know about the book? He may have seen the reference to it in Leech's splendid Butterflies from China, Japan, and Corea. But there is another possibility. Several times Nabokov signed the visitors' list at the German Enotomological Museum, then in Berlin, to which he was introduced in 1926 by his entomologist friend, Nikolai »Kardakoff. On Oct 15, 1929, there are Kardakoff's and Nabokov's signatures ("V. Nabokoff mit Frau") , and between them there is one by "A. Kricheldorff", a German who had been with Pratt at Tatsienlu. So probably Nabokov met the German collector and insect dealer Adolf Kricheldorff at the museum and possibly heard from him first-hand about that collecting trip and about Pratt's book dedicated to it. In that case Nabokov's visit to the Museum in October, 1929 might have furnished the nucleus for The Aurelian and Chapter II of The Gift. 

*implied Stor:Aur 249, Gift 122, 123, 354


von Prittwitz und Gaffron, Otto Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig (born 1824 in Kreisewitz, died 1872 in Brieg on Odra): German lawyer ("Kgl. preußischer Justizrat") and amateur naturalist in Silesia, now Poland, who between 1842 and 1871 published around twenty entomological papers, most of them on butterflies and moths of the Silesian fauna; two were on the appearance of European Lepidoptera in America. There is a skipper named for him, Adopaeoides prittwitzi Plötz, 1884 [Hesperiidae, Hesperiinae], the Sunrise Skipper, in W Texas, SE Arizona and Mexico. Recently also a genus of Nymphalidae, Ithomiinae has been called for him, Prittwitzia Brown & Ebert, 1970, with Prittwitzia hymenaea Prittwitz, 1865 as the type-species.

*Ada 57


Przhevalski, Nikolai Mihailovich (born 1839 in the province of Smolensk, died at Karakol in Kyrgyzstan, on the eve of his fifth expedition into Central Asia): colonel, then major general in the Russian army, geographer and explorer. Przhevalski organized and energetically led five major expeditions of several years duration each: one to the Ussuri region (1867-69), the other four to Central Asia: (1) to Mongolia, the Tangut region and the deserts of N Tibet (1870-73); (2) from Kulja (Yining) to the Tian Shan and the Lop Nur (1876-77); (3) from Zajsan to Hami, the Nanshan, the Qaidam basin, Tibet and the Kokonor (1879-80); (4) from Kiakhta (south of Lake Baikal) across Mongolia to the sources of the Huang He, the Kunlun Shan and again the Lop Nur (1883-85). Przhevalski died on November 1, 1888 at the age of 49 after contracting typhoid fever from imprudently or wilfully drinking water from the Chu River during a tiger hunt near Bishkek. In 1893, a large stone monument was erected on his grave by Lake Ysyk-Köl, 7 miles W of Karakol. Przhevalski had intended to make Karakol the starting point of his fifth C Asian expedition that was meant to finally reach Lhasa, the forbidden capital of Tibet. Nabokov thus makes Konstantin Godunov, in The Gift, set out from here in his place. In the books that issued from his travels, Przhevalski  thoroughly described the regions explored: relief, rivers and lakes, climate, flora and fauna, sometimes the people. His zoological interest and expertise was in birds and mammals, not in insects. He brought back 1,700 species of plants, 218 of which proved to be new, and 7,500 animal specimens, among them the wild camel of C Asia, the wild yak and the wild horse that bears his name (Equus przewalskii). Przhevalski had his mind set on science. Politically he was a chauvinist, convinced of the moral superiority of Europeans over Asiatics, hoping for a war against China that would incorporate much of "Turkestan" into the Russian Empire. Personally he was an outdoors man, a passionate hunter and a misanthrope who tried to avoid society and intensely disliked the indigenous populations of the countries he explored, especially the Chinese. Some of his personality traits are mirrored in Konstantin Godunov. The books Nabokov drew most from for Godunov's travels in The Gift were Mongoliia i strana tangutov; trekhletnee puteshestvie v vostochnoi nagornoi Azii (Mongolia, the Tangut country and the solitudes of Northern Tibet, 1876) and Ot Kiakhti na istoki Zheltoi reki, issledovanie servernoi okrainy Tibeta i put cherez Lob-nor po basseinu Tarima, 1888 (From Kiakhta to the Sources of the Yellow River, the exploration of the northern border zone of Tibet and the route by way of Lop-Nor across the Tarim Basin, the accounts of his second and fourth Central Asian expedition.

*Gift 20, 124


Püngeler, Rudolf (born 1857 in Burscheid, died 1927 in Aachen): German lawyer and district court official in Aachen who was a prolific hobby lepidopterist. His main entomological work was on geometrids and noctuids in Central Asia and China. He had a collection of 60,000 specimens, and in 37 publications described six new genera and nearly 300 new species.

*LtVé 159


Pyle, Robert Michael (born 1947 in Denver, Colorado): American writer and lepidopterist, living on a tributary of the Lower Columbia River with botanist and silkscreen artist Thea Linnaea Pyle. Pyle received his Bachelor of Science in Nature Perception and Protection and his Master of Science in Nature Interpretation from the University of Washington and his Ph.D. from Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In 1971, during a Fulbright Fellowship at the Monks Wood Experimental Station in England, Pyle founded the Xerces Society for invertebrate conservation, and later chaired its Monarch Project. Pyle has worked as butterfly conservation consultant for Papua New Guinea, Northwest Land Steward for The Nature Conservancy, and guest professor or writer at Portland State, University of Alaska, Evergreen State, and Lewis & Clark College. He has lectured for scientific, literary, and general audiences. In 1997, he received a Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology. A professional writer, Pyle has published hundreds of papers, essays, stories, and poems, in many journals. His books include The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies (1981), the Handbook for Butterfly Watchers (1984, 1992), The Thunder Tree (1993), Where Bigfoot Walks (1995), Wintergreen: Rambles in a Ravaged Land (1996), Chasing Monarchs (1999), The Butterflies of Cascadia (1999) and Mariposa Road (2010). With Brian Boyd, Pyle is the editor of Nabokov's Butterflies (2000).


Rebel, Hans (1861–1940): professor of zoology in Vienna, director of the local Naturhistorisches Museum, co-author of the 1901 edition of »Staudinger's Catalog. Rebel was an authority on the butterfly fauna of Hungary and the Balkans and participated in various field trips. As a member of a Norwegian expedition to Novaya Zemlya, he wrote Lepidoptera von Novaja Semlja (Kristiania, 1923). He also revised the 9th edition of Fr. »Berge's Schmetterlingsbuch (Stuttgart: Schweizerbart, 1910).

*Stor:Aur 248; NabBut 206 (FB)


Remington, Charles Lee (born January 19, 1922 in Reedville, Virginia, died May 31, 2007 in Hamden, Connecticut): Curator of Entomology at the Peabody Museum and Professor of Biology, Entomology and Museology at Yale University. In 1946, Remington began to do graduate work at Harvard where he received his Master's degree in 1947 and his Ph.D. (biology) in 1948, to go on to Yale. In May 1947, he founded the Lepidopterists' Society and became editor of the Lepidopterists' News, a position he held until 1964. American Men & Women of Science (1992/93) gives as his special fields of research: animal interspecific hybridization, island biology, genetics and biology of mimicry, systematics and caryology of Lepidoptera, Thysanura and Microcoryphia, biomedical ethics and museology. During his two years at Harvard he knew Nabokov whose time at the MCZ was coming to a close. This is his recollection: "I became closely acquainted with the entomologists in the venerable Museum of Comparative Zoology …, and there was Mr. Nabokov, the curator of Lepidoptera. He and I were quite equally passionate about butterflies, and friendship came easily" (The Garland Companion to Vladimir Nabokov, ed. Vladimir E. Alexandrov, 1995, p. 274). According to Brian Boyd (VNAY, p. 120), Remington led Nabokov "to the Tolland Bog, where seven different Boloria species occur together, more than anywhere else in the world. Nabokov was delighted to catch five of the seven species on their one day of collecting".

*NabBut 414, 450


Riley, Norman [Denbigh] (1890–1979): British entomologist. Riley studied entomology at the Imperial College of Science and joined the staff of the British Museum (Natural History) at South Kensington in 1911, becoming Keeper of the greatly expanding Department of Entomology in 1932, a position he held until his retirement in 1955. In addition he served on a number of entomological organizations and societies. In 1924 he took over the journal The Entomologist from his childhood friend and neighbour Richard »South and remained its editor for 40 years. His scientific specialty were lycaenids all over the world. He is the author of A Field Guide to the Butterflies of the West Indies (London, 1975) and, with his friend Lionel »Higgins, co-author of A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Great Britain and Europe (London 1970, 41980), translated into about ten languages and still in print in some countries. Nabokov valued it greatly. Kurt Johnson and Steve Coates, in their book on Nabokov's Blues (1999, p. 91–93), hold Riley responsible for the neglect of Nabokov's work in the scientific "literature of the time", for ignoring or rejecting Nabokov's splitting off the genus Cyclargus from Hemiargus in his West Indies field guide.

*Lep22; LtVé 423


Rindge, Frederick H[astings] (born 1921): American entomologist. From 1949 to 1994, Rindge was the curator of Lepidoptera at the American Museum of Natural History in New York whose enormous "current collection is largely his creation" (AMNH website). According to Brian Boyd (personal communication), Rindge was one of Nabokov's important American colleagues.


Roborovski, Vsevolod Ivanovich (1856–1910): Russian traveler who took part in a number of expeditions to Central Asia, among them »Przhevalski's third and fourth, serving as Przhevalski's main assistant. In 1893-95 he led an expedition of his own from Karakol (Przhevalsk) in Kyrgyzstan to the Tianshan, via Turfan and Hami to the Nanshan ranges, as far east as the Kuku Nor and back so Zaissansk.

*Gift 124


Romanoff, Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich (1859–1919): grand-son of Tsar Nicholas I (1796–1855), son of the Caucasian governor Mikhail Nikolaevich Romanoff and according to the Social Revolutionary Victor Chernov "the only intelligent man in the dynasty", a friend of Lev Tolstoi, Russian historian, president of the Russian Historical Society from 1909 to 1917, author of a number of historical studies on the Romanov dynasty, partly in French. He also was an amateur geographer and entomologist, editor of the prestigious Mémoires sur les lépidoptères on Asian butterflies and moths (9 vols., St. Petersburg, 1884–1901), with dozens of new species. Its figures Nabokov justly called "uncomparably beautiful". As at the time there was no way of making quality color prints, only the outlines of the insects were printed, and these then were filled in watercolors by Lang, Rybakoff, Kavrigin, Brants, Mösl and J. v. Leeuwen. All the articles were in French, German or English. Nikolai Mikhailovich had one of the largest private collections of Lepidoptera of the time which he donated to the Zoological Museum of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. He sponsored »Grum-Grzhimaylo's expeditions to Central Asia and accompanied him on one of them. As he had kept apart from the court und become increasingly critical of Tsarist policies, Nikolai II in 1916 banned him to a remote estate in the Province of Kherson. Nevertheless, he was arrested by the Bolsheviks in July, 1918 and shot in the Peter-and-Paul-Fortress on January 18, 1919. The keeper of his entomological collection was Sergey Nikolaevich »Alphéraky (1850–1918) who named many of its species.

*Gift 97, 102; SpeakM 122; NabBut 203 (FB), 206 (FB)


Rothschild, Walter (Lionel Walter, 2nd Baron Rothschild, 1868–1937): Walter Rothschild was the eldest son of merchant banker Nathan Mayer, 1st Baron Rothschild, who in 1872 took residence in Tring Park, Hertfordshire. From childhood on his passionate interest was in collecting animals, dead and alive. At the age of eight he decided to have a museum of his own. When in 1889 his father gave him some land on the outskirts of Tring Park, he immediately set up a few buildings to house his incipient collection. Opened to the public in 1892, it became  the famous Zoological Museum of Tring and was incorporated into the British Natural History Museum at Rothschild's death in 1937. Its curators were Ernst Hartert and Karl »Jordan. He commissioned dozens of naturalists to collect for him all over the world. From 1894 to 1939 the museum published a scientific journal of its own, the Novitates Zoologicae. At the time of Rothschild's death, his collection included some 2,000 mounted animals, 2,000 birds and 2,250,000 butterflies and moths–the largest private collection ever–which he donated to the British Museum.

*NabBut 212 (FB)


Rowland-Brown, Henry (1865–1922): English entomologist, athlete, journalist and poet (Rhymes and Rhapsodies, Preludes and Symphonies). Rowland-Brown was educated at Eton and Oxford, studied for the Bar, from his youth had a special interest in butterflies, became an expert on the diurnal butterflies of France, held various offices at the Entomological Society and was a regular contributor to The Entomologist and Charles »Oberthür's Lépidoptérologie comparée. In The Gift, Nabokov has Rowland-Brown write the most enthusiastic praise of Konstantin Kirillovich Godunov-Cherdyntsev's chef-d'oeuvre Butterflies and Moths of the Russian Empire.

*NabBut 207


Schiffermüller, Ignaz (1727–1806): Austrian lepidopterist. Schiffermüller was a Jesuit and a teacher at the Theresianum college in Vienna who in conjunction with the painter J.N.C. Michael Denis (1729–1800) published a preliminary work on the butterflies of the Vienna region (Systematisches Verzeichnis von den Schmetterlingen der Wienergegend, 1776) that was to exert a lasting influence on the taxonomy of European Lepidoptera. When in Kamera obskura »Kretschmar does not want to divulge his name, he calls himself 'Schiffermiller,' thinking he is using the name of the janitor of his apartment house but really changing his name which is that of a very minor lepidopterist to that of one of the founding fathers of the profession. (The third entomologist's name of the novel is »Lampert.)


Scudder, Samuel Hubbard (born April 13, 1837 in Boston, died May 17, 1911 in Boston): one of the foremost American entomologists, Scudder studied with Louis Agassiz at Harvard and for a long time was associated with the Boston Society of Natural History as whose president he served from 1880 to 1887. From 1879 to 1882, he also was assistant librarian at Harvard. He was one of the founders of the entomological journal Psyche and for several years its editor. He was an authority on several orders of insects, especially on Orthoptera and Lepidoptera. Scudder published profusely. Besides several enthusiastic popular works on butterflies (like Everyday Butterflies, Boston, 1899), he wrote Butterflies; their structure, changes and life histories (New York, 1889), an application of evolutionary theory to Lepidoptera, and The Butterflies of the Eastern United States and Canada (3 vols., Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1889), the outcome of thirty years of study which Nabokov called a "stupendous work". Scudder died after seven incapacitating years of paralysis agitans. His collection is at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology.

*Lep7 92; SpeakM 122; SelLet 103; NabBut 530


Seitz, Adalbert (1860–1938): German zoologist. Seitz studied medicine and zoology, undertook several journeys to other continents, was director of the Frankfurt zoo from 1893 to 1908, retiring to Darmstadt in order to dedicate himself completely to his "prodigious picture book" (Nabokov), Die Groß-Schmetterlinge der Erde, the most comprehensive work on the earth's Lepidoptera ever attempted. The first installment appeared in 1906, the last installments were published in 1954; the work was never quite finished. There are 16 volumes (mostly one text, one figures), with supplement volumes updating the first four volumes, published by Alfred Kernen Verlag in Stuttgart. From 1918, Seitz also was director of the entomological section at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt. The "fat, bald, extraordinarily jovial German professor" Godunov-Cherdyntsev meets in Geneva right in the middle of World War I to discuss his collaboration in "a work of many volumes, stubbornly continuing publication in Stuttgart with longstanding cooperation of foreign specialists" clearly is an allusion to Seitz and his work. His collection is at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt. Nabokov certainly did not get around Seitz, but he seems not to have relished the figures which indeed became increasingly shoddy. In "Father's Butterflies" he speaks of "the very first (still bearable) issues of Seitz' Palearctica" and of his "artificial tatterdemalions".

*Gift 102, 129; SpeakM 123; Ada 591; NabBut 206 (FB), 207 (FB)


Sievers, Ivan Karlovich (Johann Christoph Sievers) (born 1805 in Hamburg, died 1867 in Karlsbad): a merchant and amateur entomologist in St. Petersburg who compiled a Verzeichnis der Schmetterlinge des Petersburger Gouvernements (Horae Societatis entomologicae Rossiae, 4, 1866–1867, p. 49–77). His son Gustav Ivanovich Sievers (1843–1893) was also an entomologist and Grand Duke »Romanoff's secretary.

*SpeakM 132


Smythe, Ellison Adger (1863–1941): entomologist, specialty sphingids, founding chair of the department of biological sciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VirginiaTech) in Blacksburg, Virginia.

* LtVé 466


South, Richard (born 1846 in Marylebone, died 1932 in London): entomologist and curator of Lepidoptera at the British Museum (Natural History), editor of The Entomologist. His principal books are The Butterflies of the British Isles (London, 1906) and The Moths of the British Isles (London, 1907). In 1973, there was an updated edition of South's British Butterflies, by T. G. Howarth.

*SpeakM 122; SelLet 500


Spuler, Arnold (1869–1937): German lepidopterist, professor of anatomy at the University of Erlangen. Setting out to update the 3rd edition of »Hofmann's Die Groß-Schmetterlinge Europas (1887), Spuler rewrote it completely and greatly expanded it, producing what probably was the most widely consulted manual on European butterflies in the first half of the 20th century, Die Schmetterlinge Europas (2 vols. of text, one of plates), followed by Die Raupen der Schmetterlinge Europas (Stuttgart: Schweizerbart, 1910). Nabokov was less than enthusiastic about the old German butterfly atlases by »Berge and »Hofmann and thought Spuler had merely "haphazardly retouched Hofmann".

*SpeakM 212; NabBut 206 (FB)


Stallings, Don [Brigg] (1910–1987): American lawyer and lepidopterist. Stallings practised law in Caldwell, Kansas (his native state), collected butterflies and was Research Affiliate of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University to which he presented the large Stallings and Turner Collection of Lepidoptera (Dr. J. R. Turner was a brother of his wife). Twice he was President of the Lepidopterists' Society. Stallings' specialty were giant skippers (Megathyminae). In his later years he collected living material in the western states and in Mexico to study the molecular systematics of the family (i.e., to map the DNA in order to estimate genetic distances between different taxa and to thus establish their systematic validity). According to Boyd (VNAY, p. 121), he turned over hundreds of lycaenids captured during the early 1940s to Nabokov at the MCZ to examine and order. In July 1947, he accompanied the Nabokovs on a two days' collecting excursion in the Longs Peak area, hunting after Erebia magdalena Strecker.

*SelLet 104; Lep7 87; Lep14 484; NabBut 279, 347, 404, 409


Staudinger, Otto (born 1830 in Mecklenburg, died 1900 in Lucerne): German entomologist and insect dealer. Staudinger studied zoology at the university of Berlin, earning his Ph.D. with a dissertation on the Sesiidae (clearwing moths) of the countryside around Berlin (1854). He travelled to many countries, especially around the Mediterranean, and in 1874 founded the firm Staudinger & Bang-Haas in Dresden-Blasewitz. In his later years bees and apiculture become another interest of his. Staudinger was the principal author of the influential Catalog der Lepidopteren des Palaearctischen Faunengebiets, published in three editions, 1861, 1871 and 1901 in Berlin. His collection of Lepidoptera is said to have been the largest and best organized one of its time. His commercial collection went to the Tierkundemuseum in Dresden, his private collection is at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin. For scientific reasons, Nabokov persistently loathed Staudinger and the influence he had wielded on turn-of-the-century lepidoptery almost as much as, in another domain, he loathed Freud. Staudinger was a businessman as much as he was a taxonomist, and in his Catalog he had "haphazardly" coined hundreds of new names even for single specimens if they only had a new locality label and looked a little different from known ones, relying on his naked eye. Nabokov, however, in America came to distrust the naked eye; even before that, he thought a thorough examination of many similar specimens was necessary to establish a meaningful new taxon. This characterization from "Father's Butterflies" probably has Staudinger in mind: "I can picture the author's [= Godunov sen.] laughing eyes … when I come upon the good-humored demolition of some 'discovery' by that German muddler who recklessly let loose with names (all mythological to boot, even Walpurgian), creating along the way, countless local, often imaginary races, even disrupting his own priority, such at it was, with secondary descriptions of the same subspecies from a different location – but his entomological fervor and his splendidly assembled collections allowed him to be forgiven everything". There was nothing unusual about the hundreds, perhaps thousands of names Staudinger bestowed on Palearctic butterflies and moths. Most were named for some feature, like pallida or obscura, or for some locality, like amurensis or sibirica; some of his names reflect affection or dislike, like nobilis, gracilis, admirabilis, splendida, amor or incommoda, squalidior, repugnans. There also was a Melitaea infernalis Staudinger, 1891 (a checkerspot in Kazakhstan) and a Lycaeides lucifera Staudinger, 1867 (a blue in Southern Siberia). In 1886, he gave the name styx to a form of the apollo Parnassius delphius, to which his business associate Bang-Haas replied with a Parnassius delphius satanas in 1910 and the Berlin entomologist Hering with a Parnassius delphius mephisto. There are other – older and newer – develish names in entomology that are not by Staudinger.

*Stor:Aur 248; Gift 103; SpeakM 123,124; NabBut 171 (FB), 209–210 (FB), 309, 310, 318, 336


Stempffer, Henri (born 1894 in Paris, died 1978 in Paris): French lepidopterist, from 1923 to 1943 member and president of the Société entomologique de France. Stempffer was an authority on African lycaenids and in 1937 delineated the group of lycaenids Nabokov did most of his research on, the Plebejinae ("Contribution à l'étude des Plebeiinae paléarctiques", Bulletin de la Société entomologique de France [Paris], 42, 1937, p. 211–18, 296–311).

*NabBut 415; Lep14 484; LtVé 423


Strecker, Ferdinand Heinrich Herman (born 1836 in Philadelphia, died 1901 in Reading, Pennsylvania): American architect and sculptor in marble who was also a naturalist and ardent collector of butterflies and moths in which he at times dealt. The collection he amassed in his lifetime consisted of 200,000 specimens from all over the world, many of them holotypes. It is at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. He wrote two books on Lepidoptera. The one better known is Butterflies and Moths of North America, Reading, Pennsylvania: Owen, 1878.

*NabBut 408 (L)


Turati, Count Emilio (1858–1938): Italian lepidopterist in Gardone on Lake Garda who focused on the butterfly faunas of Italy, especially of Sardinia and Sicily, and of Libya. The last fifteen years of his life he spent researching the butterflies of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania.



Tutt, James William (1858–1911): English teacher, school director and lepidopterist and an authority on the butterflies of Great Britain. He wrote two popular handbooks on British butterflies (London 1896) and moths (London 1896) and then proceeded to his two chefs d'oeuvre. The first one was A Natural History of the British Lepidoptera (4 vols., London 1899–1904), a systematic treatment (no figures) of British moths. The second one was A Natural History of the British Butterflies (4 vols., London, 1905–1914). The title is somewhat of a misnomer for the work was unfinished (the fourth volume was completed posthumously) and dealt only with hesperids and lycaenids. On the other hand, though all its species occur on the British Isles, it treats their variant forms worldwide. It is easy to see why Nabokov valued this work so much: it is packed with minute detail the German handbooks usually lacked, especially on the polyommatines (blues) that were Nabokov's main scientific concern.

*Gift 111


Lord Walsingham (Thomas De Gray) (born 1843 in London, died 1919 in London): English sportsman, naturalist and the leading specialist in Microlepidoptera. He studied in Cambridge and undertook many collecting trips, mainly to Southern Europe, North Africa and the West Coast of the United States, amassing 260,000 specimens, the largest collection of Microlepidoptera of his times. After his death, it went to the British Museum.

*NabBut 212 (FB)


Verity, Ruggero (Roger) (1883–1959): Italian physician (surgeon) and lepidopterist, in Florence. His chef d'œuvre is Le farfalle diurne d'Italia (4 vols., Firenze: Marzocco, 1943, 1947, 1950), published in 1,000 numbered copies. In an interview by Nantas Salvalaggio for Il Giorno (Nov 3, 1969), Nabokov called it "the greatest work on butterflies published in the last thirty years … Owing to that sumptuous and exhaustive work the Italian butterflies are remarkably well known". In his technical papers, Nabokov was more critical of Verity's taxonomical stratagems. Verity – like Tutt – was an extreme "splitter", assigning names to hundreds of very minor local varieties, something Nabokov did not appreciate. On the other hand he was impressed by Verity's stupendous work. Its format (large pages, copious text and colored plates packed with photographs of spread butterflies on a uniform background) probably was what he imagined for his projected The Butterflies of Europe. Probably it is Verity's voice that, in "Father's Butterflies", in the imaginary shoptalk among European butterfly collectors, remarks "… il existe entre celle de la rave et celle de Mann une espèce méditerranéenne …" In 1908, Verity had named a new Mediterranean species in the napi-group of whites, »Pieris pseudorapae.

*Gift 97; SelLet 474, 500; NabBut 212 (FB), 580 (BE), 583 (BE), 601 (BE)



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