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Maria Louisa Whately
Vivienne de Watteville
(COLONIAL FEMALE HUNTER)
BIRTH
1900
DEATH
1957


Having lost her mother at the age of nine, she arrived with her father in East Africa in 1926, still a young girl. Bernard de Watteville, a naturalist, shot dozens of animals for the museum in Bern. Vivienne liked to help him in his work, and would methodically dismember the corpses of the animals in preparation for the work of the Swiss taxidermists. Father and daughter followed their prey on foot, with their "boys" and their equipment, and lived for long weeks in the bush, sleeping in tents, surrounded by wild animals, enduring the climate and tropical diseases. They supplied the dioramas of the Bern museum with close to a hundred specimens. Vivienne fell deeply in love with Africa. On the 30th of September, 1924, Bernard de Watteville was killed by a lion. She took charge of the expedition and killed the white rhinoceros needed to complete their list. Returning to Europe to prepare for her next voyage, she published Out in the Blue, a detailed account of the killing and dismemberment of wild animals. Nonetheless, hunting was definitively behind her and, during her second sojourn in Kenya, in 1928-1930, she settled on a reserve, right in the middle of the wilderness, in order to better observe the animals, photograph, and film them. A skilled mountaineer, she also undertook the ascent of Mount Kenya. A second book emerged from this period, Speak to the Earth, published in two volumes in France: Un thé chez les éléphants ("Tea with the elephants") and Petite musique de chambre sur le Mont Kenya ("Chamber music on Mount Kenya"), which highlighted her now-peaceable relationship to nature and the animals. A stay on Port-Cros Island inspired Seeds that the wind may bring, which was published after her death from cancer at the age of fifty-seven.






Out in the Blue London, Methuen & Co, 1927.
L'appel de l'Afrique : séjour et méditations parmi les éléphants et les montagnes du Kenya ; préface et traduction de G. Jean-Aubry, Payot, 1936.
Seeds that the wind may bring, Methuen & Co, 1965
Petite musique de chambre sur le mont Kenya ; trad. de l'anglais par G. Jean-Aubry, Paris, Payot & Rivages 1997 et 2000
Un thé chez les éléphants : retour au Kenya ; trad. de l'anglais par G. Jean-Aubry, Payot & Rivages, 1997 et 2000

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