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Science
Percy and Jock: One Man and His Dog
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Tuesday 7th August 11am

David Attenborough narrates the story of the book Jock of the Bushveld and reveals the lasting natural history legacy that Percy Fitzpatrick and his family have left behind for future generations.

A Staffordshire bull terrier
A Staffordshire Bull Terrier
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Percy and Jock: One Man and His Dog

Jock of the Bushveld, is a tale of a young man’s adventures with his hunting dog, a Staffordshire bull terrier, through southern Africa in the late 1800s.

They travelled as part of wagon trains which were supplying the remote goldfield camps in the Transvaal with provisions.

The book was published 100 years ago in 1907 and became the most famous children’s book to come out of South Africa and is regarded as a classic amongst animal stories.

The young man, and the book's author, was James Percy Fitzpatrick who was born in 1862. He went on to become a statesman, politician, and pioneer of the citrus industry in South Africa.

Through his time travelling as a young man through the bushveld with his hunting dog, Jock, Percy Fitzpatrick developed an interest in and love of his native fauna and flora. He learnt much about the behaviour of the wild animals through tracking and hunting them.

His daughter Cecily inherited his love of wildlife and became very interested in ornithology. Percy Fitzpatrick died in 1931 but in the 1950s Cecily, together with her husband and their children, initiated the idea of an ornithological institute to be set up in her father's name.

The Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology  opened its doors in 1960 and has grown to become an important centre of natural history learning and research, together with the Niven Library .

First editions of the book fetch high prices today when offered for sale. When the book was first published it had a dark bottle green binding with a Staffordshire bull terrier in gilt on the front.

One of the most poignant copies of the book belongs to the owner of Thorold’s Africana books in Johannesburg - inside the front cover is an inscription from Percy Fitzpatrick to his friend Edward Sivewright - he was the man who had originally given the Staffordshire bull terrier puppy to Percy Fitzpatrick.
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