Land and Water Tortoises by Amphibius. And Who Was Amphibius?

Land and Water Tortoises. Their Care as Pets by Amphibius was on sale in the 1950s. It is a 32-page staple-bound paper-backed book. It is No 3 in the Water Life Series, is marked ‘Second Edition’ and is undated. Booksellers state 1952 as the date of publication. Hardy Reptiles and Amphibians by L.G. Payne (earlier post) was No 2 in the series. According to Google the first edition (with a slightly different title, Land and Water Tortoises. Their Care in Captivity) was published in 1937 by Marshall Press. I have never seen a first edition but one is on sale by a bookseller in UK for GBP 50. The second edition was revised by Alfred Leutscher, about whom more will follow in later posts. The second edition also has a different publisher: “Water Life”, Dorset House, Stamford Street, London S.E.1.  It had become part of the Poultry World empire that included, until a few years ago, the weekly Cage Birds.

Here is a review of the book in Water Life of 13 April 1937 by Philip Castang, the well-known dealer:

Tortoises 13 April 1937

‘Amphibius’ was a prolific writer in the 1930s issues of the magazine, Water Life, on reptiles and amphibians in captivity. He also spoke at meeting of societies under the same pseudonym. He clearly kept a large collection of reptiles and amphibians in the 1930s. But who was Amphibius and why did he use a pseudonym?

Medical practitioners and other professionals who were not allowed to advertise their services sometimes used pseudonyms in writing about their non-professional activities. The fact that he mentions ergosterol as a precursor of a vitamin (‘B’ appears in the text but it should be ‘D’) could indicate a medical man. That is the only possible lead I have as to his identity. Is the fact that the second edition was revised by Alfred Leutscher significant in that Amphibius may have been incapable of making the revisions or had died sometime between about 1939 and 1950?

In the hope that somebody reading this may know or know of somebody who may know the answer, I repeat the question: Who was Amphibius?

The book can be downloaded here or the Downloads page above:

Land and Water Tortoises

UPDATED 24 April 2016. I found the following letter from Monica Green (1925-2014, Secretary of the British Herpetological Society for 57 years) in Water Life (Volume 9, No 3, June-July 1954). The editor, in reply, wrote: The author, who used the non-de-plume “Amphibius” is now dead. Leutscher in replying to Monica Green’s criticism of the second eidtion also had the opportunity, but still did not, state the name of ‘Amphibius’. So we still do not know the identity of Amphibius.

Green Final

AL