Nicholas Guppy


Nicholas Guppy, botanist and explorer, was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and educated at Kelly College, Tavistock and then Trinity College, Cambridge where he took a degree in Botany. He studied at the Imperial Forestry Institute in Oxford, followed by a year in Magdalen College before travelling to British Guiana with the Colonial Service. Whilst there, Guppy led six expeditions to the interior. During these trips, Guppy encountered the indigenous Wai Wai and Mawayana tribes and he wrote about these in encounters in two books, the first of which, ‘Wai-Wai’ (1958), described remote regions of the upper Essequibo River on the Brazilian border.

Alongside his botanical field work, Guppy founded the Primitive People’s Fund, now known as Survival International and became a regular writer and broadcaster, both in Britain and in the United States.

The Horniman received from Guppy a large collection of ethnographic artefacts from Wai-Wai and Mawayana people in 1969. They were originally collected during an expedition to the Essequibo region between February and September 1952. He later further donated specimens relating to cassava preparation in 1982 and a photographic collection in 2009.

Brief biography

botanist, writer and explorer (1925 - 2012)

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