Patterson, Arthur Henry

Broadland naturalist and writer, born on 19 October 1857 at Great Yarmouth, the youngest of nine children. His father, William Patterson, a Norwich shoemaker, described as rather a stern figure, was connected with the New City Sunday School and Lady Lane WM school. He then moved to Great Yarmouth, where he joined the Primitive Methodists and became a trustee of Temple chapel. Arthur Patterson was educated at the Great Yarmouth PM Day School, where he was briefly a pupil teacher, then in 1879 a postman and soon after a peddler o]f ready-packed tea. Following marriage in 1880 he was employed as an attendant at the YMCA and a taxidermist; from 1892 to 1926 he was a School Board Attendance Officer.

His prolific literary output, begun in 1884, included Man and Nature on the Broads (1895), Rambles in Birdland (nd [1896]), Notes of an East Coast Naturalist (1904), Nature in East Norfolk (1905), Wildlife on a Norfolk Estuary (1907), Man and Nature of Tidal Waters (1909) and Through Broadland by Sail and Motor (1930). He illustrated his own books and after 1896 adopted the pseudonym 'John Knowlittle'. He also wrote a substantial history of PM in Yarmouth, From Hayloft to Temple (1903). Though a family man, he shunned social occasions and gave his recreations as 'solitary rambling, loafing around rivers and broads in a houseboat, hobnobbing with all sorts and conditions of men - eel catchers, smelters, fishermen, gunners, etc.' Recognition of his work as a naturalist came in May 1935 with his election to the Linnean Society. He died on 27 October 1935.

A selection of his writings, Scribblings of a Yarmouth Naturalist, edited by Beryl G. Tololey, was published in 2004.

  • Stanley A. Mannering, Broadland Naturalist: the life of Arthur H. Patterson, ALS, 'John Knowlittle (Norwich, 1948)
  • Beryl Tooley, John Knowlittle, the life of the Yarmouth Naturalist Arthur Henry Patterson, ALS (Norwich, 1985)


Entry written by: DCD and NV
Category: Person
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