Water Life Magazine 1936-58: Part 17. The First Post-War Issues from 1946

In Part 3 of this series (19 January 2015), I showed that Margery Elwin was writing to J.B.S. Haldane of getting Water Life magazine up and running again after the war. I have now looked at the early post-war issues in the Zoo library. As I thought the Poultry World empire was now the publisher, bringing it into the fold of a number of other publications that included Cage Birds. It was now called Water Life and Aquaria World and appeared with its first issue in the new guise in April 1946, nearly a year after VE Day and eight months after VJ Day. Margery Elwin was still the (Technical) Editor and these early issues of the new series (now re-numbered volume 1, New Issues) contained articles by her and her husband, Louis C. Mandeville. The issues contained articles by, for example, Lieutenant J.D. Romer (John Romer who became Pest Control Officer for Hong Kong and who described and wrote on the reptiles and amphibians, discovering Romer’s Frog, now Liuixalus romeri, in 1952) on the aquatic snakes of India. L.G. Payne, who had written extensively on amphibians and reptiles before the war, wrote, with his entomological hat on, on collecting water beetles. Alfred Leutscher wrote of his encounters with reptiles and amphibians and local herpetologists as a soldier from the beaches of Normandy in 1944 to Germany in 1945.

As promised in the correspondence with Margery Elwin, J.B.S. Haldane and his wife, Helen Spurway, provided articles on genetics and on newts. W.J. Page, later the long-serving editor of Cage Birds, wrote, as he continued to do so, of his visits to aquarists and shows around the country; he is mentioned as being the editor in 1953 and may well have taken over from Margery Elwin shortly after the Poultry World takeover; he was appointed editor of Cage Birds in November 1955 on the retirement of E.R.W. Lincoln.


W.J. Page

Advertisements by Robert Jackson and Fords appeared.

There was a clear change after about 1949-1950. There was no announcement of a change in editorship that I could find but there were suddenly no articles by Elwin or Mandeville. Indeed, there are articles by Elwin and by Mandeville, in the rival publication, The Aquarist, in 1951. This change would match the appearance in the record of Margery Elwin working for Haldane in maintaining Drosophila lines and of Louis Mandeville becoming an Honorary Research Assistant in Haldane’s department in 1949*. At the same time, Leslie W. Ashdown (who became editor at some time in the mid-1950s, probably replacing W.J. Page) appears as a contributor.


*He was breeding newts for Helen Spurway, building 10 outdoor vivaria in his garden – see Spurway, H. 1953. Genetics of specific and subspecific differences in European newts. In, Evolution (Symposia of the Society for Experimental Biology 7), 200-237; also see this paper on frogs: Mandeville, L.C. & Spurway, H. (1949) The development of hybrids between Rana esculenta and Rana ribibunda. British Journal of Herpetology 1, 39-50.

UPDATED 6 April 2016