Smith, Anthony 1926–
Smith, Anthony 1926–
(Anthony John Francis Smith)
PERSONAL: Born March 30, 1926, in Maidenhead, England; son of Hubert J.F. (chief agent for the National Trust) and Diana (Watkin) Smith; married Barbara Dorothy Newman (a journalist and economist), September 1, 1956 (marriage dissolved, 1983); married Margaret Ann Holloway, April 6, 1984; children: (first marriage) one son and two daughters; (second marriage) one son. Education: Balliol College, Oxford, M.A., 1951. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, lighter-than-air flying.
ADDRESSES: Home—10 Aldbourne Rd., London W12 0LN, England. Agent—Curtis Brown Ltd., 162-168 Regent St., London W1R 5TB, England; c/o Author Mail, Carroll & Graf, 245 West 17th St., 11th Flr., New York, NY 10011-5300.
CAREER: Journalist, science writer, and explorer. Guardian, Manchester, England, reporter, 1953, and 1956–57; Drum, West Africa, general manager, 1954–55; Daily Telegraph, London, England, science editor, 1957–63; freelance writer and broadcaster. Has appeared on more than 600 radio programs and fifty television programs; presenter of various television series, including Great Zoos of the World, Great Parks of the World, and Wilderness, and a radio series, A Sideways Look, 1977–89. Military service: Royal Air Force, 1944–48.
MEMBER: Association of British Science Writers, Royal Geographical Society, Zoological Society of London (scientific fellow), British Balloon and Airship Club (founding member, 1965; president, 1970–).
AWARDS, HONORS: Glaxo Award for Science Writers, 1977; Cherry Kearton Medal and Award, Royal Geographical Society, 1978.
Blind White Fish in Persia, Dutton (New York, NY), 1953.
Sea Never Dry, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1958.
High Street Africa, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1961.
Jambo: African Balloon Safari, Dutton (New York, NY), 1963, published as Throw Out Two Hands, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1963.
Body, Walker (London, England), 1968, Viking (New York City), 1985.
The Seasons: Life and Its Rhythms, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1970, published as The Seasons: Rhythms of Life, Cycles of Change, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1970.
The Dangerous Sort: The Story of a Balloon, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1970.
Mato Grosso: Last Virgin Land, Dutton (New York, NY), 1971.
Beside the Seaside, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1972.
(With Jill Southam) Good Beach Guide, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1973.
The Human Pedigree, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1975.
Animals on View, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1977.
Wilderness, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1978.
A Persian Quarter Century, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1979.
A Sideways Look (based on radio series of same title), Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1983.
The Mind, Viking (New York, NY), 1984.
Smith and Son: An Expedition into Africa, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1984.
Explorers of the Amazon, Viking (New York, NY), 1990.
Free Life: Spirit of Courage, Folly and Obsession, Pushcart Press (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Mark Wagner) Ballooning, Hanes North America (Newbury Park, CA), 1998.
The Weather: The Truth about the Health of Our Planet, Hutchinson (London, England), 2000.
Machine Gun: The Story of the Men and the Weapon that Changed the Face of War, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003.
The Lost Lady of the Amazon: The Story of Isabela Godin and Her Epic Journey, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2003.
Also author of Which Animal Are You? (children's book), 1988; The Great Rift, 1988; Best Friends (children's book), 1990; Swaps (children's book), 1992; Sex, Genes and All That, 1997; The Human Body, 1999; and Eighteenth Century Amazon, 2002. Also author of numerous screenplays for television series, including Balloon Safari, Balloons over the Alps, Great Zoos of the World, Great Parks of the World, and Wilderness; author of scripts for radio series, including A Sideways Look, 1977–89, High Street Africa Revisited, 1983–84, and Truth to Tell, 1990–.
ADAPTATIONS: Body was adapted for film by Kestrel Productions, 1969.
SIDELIGHTS: Anthony Smith is a distinguished science writer whose numerous books cover a wide range of topics. In Explorers of the Amazon, Smith presents a series of essays focusing on the European explorers who first traveled the Amazon River. Writing in Nature, Len Goodwin noted that the book contained "fascinating tales based on a wide study of contemporary documents and reports." Smith recounts a true story in The Lost Lady of the Amazon: The Story of Isabela Godin and Her Epic Journey. In the mid 1700s, Isabela is separated from her husband, a French scientist, because of political tensions. Finally, twenty years later, she receives permission to traverse the 3,000 miles across South America to try and find him. Although the search party starts out with forty-two people, Isabela ends up as the only survivor of the group, and she is tormented and half mad. Writing in Booklist, Margaret Flanagan commented: "This stirring, real-life adventure reads like fiction."
Smith told CA: "I first got interested in writing during spare time in the Royal Air Force (between 1944 and 1948). Scribbling plays (entirely about young people, or their parents) served as good antidote to the perpetual noise, canned music, chat and argument going on around me. School had managed to alienate me from worthy books. In the Air Force I read everything I could lay my hands on, and immediately benefited.
"I used to write by hand, but journalism forced me to use a typewriter, then a PC, and now a computer. But I still think that writing by hand is the best way to put thoughts onto paper. I originally thought that evening writing was best. I now follow conventional working hours.
"I know the difference between good and bad writing by others within a paragraph or so, but I still have no idea how I come to these conclusions. My first book is still my favourite because it succeeded without knowing how to succeed. My subsequent books have been cleverer, more skilled, and earning more marks academically, but that first one was just good. I particularly envy its opening sentence—'At first it was only one soldier who shouted at me.' That's brilliant."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2003, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Lost Lady of the Amazon: The Story of Isabela Godin and Her Epic Journey, p. 1272.
Book World, June 16, 1968, review of Body, p. 4.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of The Lost Lady of the Amazon, p. 218.
Nature, April, 1990, Len Goodwin, review of Explorers of the Amazon, p. 901.
New York Times Book Review, October 20, 1968, review of Body, p. 53.
Observer (London, England), April 14, 1968, review of Body, p. 27.