My passion for wildlife began early. I used to smuggle roadkill into the house despite my mother’s preference for flowers. A fascination with nature started with pond-dipping; while other girls were experimenting with makeup and exploring the impact on the boys of rolling up the waistbands of their skirts to show more leg, I was nerdily nose-down in our garden pond, learning about reproductive behaviour in minuscule cyclops and water-fleas. This interest grew and blossomed through fossil collecting and hamster breeding. In between times I swam a great deal and learned to sail. My ecological passion persisted and I signed up to study zoology in Plymouth, a perfect place for me because of the proximity of the sea, various rivers and the wilds of Dartmoor. I learned to SCUBA dive from Plymouth Hoe and even did sub-marine ecological surveys. I indulged in all possible water sports, including white-water canoeing and cave diving; I went exploring in seach of blind white eels. One summer while still an undergraduate, I joined a big ecological team cataloguing the flora and fauna of Shetland. I documented the invertebrates and could be seen face down in the peat or in pursuit of the occasional Bombus.
After graduating, I organised an overland trip to Nepal. That first expedition provided my first astonishing glimpses of sub-tropical wildlife which made me enthusiastic about sharing the wonders of the natural world with others. I wrote long letters home; people seemed to love them so I was encouraged. Some authors have always known they would write, but that desire has rather crept up on me. My dyslexia made me reticent. I was a late starter and it was a long time before I developed the confidence to write for people outside my circle of family and friends.
Travel gave me a particular loathing of leeches and parasites, as well as an indignation about inequality of access to health care. Ultimately this pushed me towards becoming medically qualified. I have worked as a GP (family physician) in Cambridgeshire for 15 years and have worked in other medical roles overseas for about 11 years. My blundering language forays have made me privy to a wealth of fascinating cultural material some of which appears in my writing particularly on Nepal. I have published a novel set in Nepal and the first two in a series of wildlife-rich adventure stories for 8 to 12-year-olds. I live in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal and when the mists clear I can see the Himalayas from my kitchen window.
Author time line
|2019 (October) - David's first Glimpse of Eternal Snows published in Kidding Around: tales of travelling with children by Bradt
|2018 (September) - launch of our anthology 50 Camels and She's Yours: tales from five women across five continents
|2018 (September) - Himalayan Hostages published by Vajra Books, Kathmandu
|2018 (June) - Himalayan Hideout published by Vajra Books, Kathmandu
|2017 (September) - publication of Chasing the Tiger: the second Alex and James eco-adventure in Nepal by Eifrig Publishing
|2017 (March) - Snowfed Waters published by Speaking Tiger (Delhi) and distributed throughout the subcontinent
|2016 (August) - publication of Himalayan Kidnap: the first Alex and James eco-adventure in Nepal by Eifrig
|2015 (September) Relic of the Raj tale published in the anthology To Oldly Go by Bradt Guides
|2015 (July) - Your Child Abroad kindle version launched by Bradt and also made available on amazon
|2015 (March) - A Glimpse of Eternal Snows 3rd edition published by Speaking Tiger in India distributed widely in Nepal
|2014 (May) - Your Child Abroad updated and 3rd edition published as an e-book
|2014 (January) - my first novel (for grown-ups) Snowfed Waters appeared as a kindle and paperback book
|2013 (July) - Lemurs of the Lost World updated for the 25th anniversary and made available for Kindle readers
|2013 (Spring) - A Glimpse of Eternal Snows released in the US by Globe Pequot
|2012 - A Glimpse of Eternal Snows: a journey of love and loss in the Himalayas 2nd (global) edition published in the UK
|2011 - revised print and Kindle edition of How to Shit Around the World published (but still showing published in 2006)
|2009 - Bugs Bites & Bowels 5th edition appeared as The Essential Guide to Travel Health
|2007 - A Glimpse of Eternal Snows: a family's journey of love and loss in Nepal published in Australia & New Zealand by Pier 9
|2006 - How to Shit Around the World published by Travelers Tales
|2006 - Bugs Bites & Bowels 4th edition launched by Cadogan Guides
|2005 - Your Child Abroad: a travel health guide published by Bradt Travel Guides
|2002 - Bugs Bites & Bowels 3rd edition launched
|2000 - Shitting Pretty published by Travelers Tales of Palo Alto, California
|1999 - Bugs Bites & Bowels 2nd edition published
|1998 - Your Child’s Health Abroad: a manual for travelling parents launched by Bradt
|1995 - Bugs Bites & Bowels launched by Cadogan
|1995 - Lemurs of the Lost World 2nd edition appeared (Impact Books)
|1993 - approached by Wanderlust magazine and invited to write regular double spread travel health features for them
|1990 - first book launched – Lemurs of the Lost World: exploring the forests and Crocodile Caves of Madagascar
click here for Jane’s blog
Click here to hear her talk on poo
So far she has three novels and five non-fiction books in print :
Dr Jane Wilson BSc (hons), MSc (Oxon), BM, DCH, DCCH, DFSRH, FRSTM&H, FFTM RCPS (Glasg)
“I have worked as a clinician and health advisor in remote regions for 11 years. On many trips into usually inaccessible, orthodox communities, I have been treated as an ‘honorary man’. My male hosts think I am being paid a compliment, and the celebrity treatment certainly facilitates my work: I am regarded as having an intellect almost equalling a man yet I am allowed to talk to their women even if they are kept in purdah.”
How to Shit Around the World page xiii
I practise medicine under my maiden name, but since there are so many Dr J Wilsons in the world, I write under my more distinguished married name. You'll see below that I've been elected a 'fellow' half a dozen times, but my youngest son still says I throw like a girl.
Jane boasts an array of "internationally recognised postnominals"
What the letters after her name mean
|2017 - honoured to be elected a Fellow of the British Global and Travel Health Association
|2009 - FFTM RCPS (Glasg) elected Fellow of the Faculty Travel Medicine, Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons, Glasgow
|2006 - MFTM RCPS (Glasg) admitted as a member of the Faculty Travel Medicine, Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons, Glasgow
|2003 - Became a member of the Society of Authors
|2003 - Began to serve on the British Travel Health Association publications sub-committee
|2001 - Diploma Faculty of Family Planning & Reproductive Health of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London awarded; DFFP renamed DFSRH in 2007
|2000 - Elected a member of the International Society of Travel Medicine
|1998 - Member British Global and Travel Health Association since its formation that year
|1992 - DCCH Diploma in Community Child Health (awarded by RCP, RCGP & Public Health Faculty, Edinburgh)
|1992 - DCH Diploma in Child Health (Royal College of Physicians, London)
|1992 - Joint Committee on Postgraduate Training for General Practice certificate
|1987 - Joint Committee on Contraception & Family Planning certificate
|1986 - Joint leader of the six-month Crocodile Caves of Ankarana expedition to Madagascar
|1985 - BM, not a bowel movement but a Bachelor of Medicine degree (from Southampton University), the British qualification that allows me to practise as a physician: equivalent to an American MD
|1985 - Elected Council Member, Scientific Exploration Society
|1985 - Elected Fellow Royal Geographical Society
|1983 - Bish Medal awarded by the Scientific Exploration Society of Great Britain for “courage and determination in the face of adversity”
|1979 - FRSTM&H: elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
|1979 - M.Sc. Corpus Christi College, Oxford University awarded after presenting a thesis on the control of microsporidian parasites
|1979 - Awarded a Foulkes Foundation Fellowship which allowed me to study medicine as a mature student
|1976 - Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship which helped fund six months zoological research in the Himalaya; in 2019 the Queen granted permission for Churchill Fellows to add CF to their postnominals
|1975 - Elected a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society
|1975 - B.Sc. (hons) Plymouth; Biological Sciences (upper second) specialising in terrestrial ecology and entomology
|1972 - Ordinary National Diploma in Sciences from Ewell Tech, now known as NESCOT
|1968 - acquired a small selection of GCE 'O' levels after a couple of years at Cheam County Secondary School which imperceptibly morphed into Cheam High School while I was there
|1959 - began my education at Stoneleigh East County Infants / Junior / Secondary Schools in north Surrey
My Inspirational Dad
It is easy to take families for granted – especially if the family is a good supportive one, and I guess I have only recently recognised what a huge influence my Dad had on me in so many ways. Early on, our chore on a Sunday was to write to our grandparents “across the water”, in Belfast. Although it did feel like a labour, it was a great discipline so that when I started to travel it was natural for me to want to write letters home describing all the wonders and excitements I was experiencing. And now look where that discipline has got me.
My Dad was a superb role model. He was self-effacing, but with high standards and principles and he loved water sports and team sports - photos of him are here. Quietly Joe encouraged me to follow my passions too. I know he inspired many many others to achieve beyond their expectations. Read more
A Key Opportunity
Someone I hardly noticed showed me through a huge double oak door. I was confronted by five bespectacled old people sitting at a vast wooden table. I was told to sit on a tiny chair that was so close to the table that I couldn't see all my interviewers. Bright autumn sunshine streamed in through ceiling-to-floor windows, reflected in the chandeliers and silhouetted my inquisitors.
Sir Peter Scott asked me to describe the natural history projects I wanted to do in the Himalayas. I gabbled and blathered. I contradicted myself. No-one asked any difficult questions. I started to think I might get through this, even if much of what I told them felt like blag and bullshit. I've always lacked self-confidence and so repeatedly I am surprised when when anyone sees any talent in me. The board seemed impressed. Amazingly.
So it was that I won a Churchill Travelling Scholarship which allowed me to quit - heroicially - the Surrey suburbs I grew up in. It gave me the money and kudos to make the overland trip to Nepal.
The trip was a life-changer. My confidence was boosted. I saw first hand - by doing it - how a little hygiene education can help villagers who don't know about germs and microbes, and I met a man who understood and shared my passions. And so - I guess - I have, pretty much, lived happily ever after.
Leiston, Suffolk, September 2010
Some Favourite Things
Autumn, ajrak, Ankarana
Beechwoods, butterflies, books, Bach
Dragonflies, dung beetles
Eccles cakes, Earl Grey, Echinops
Family, friends, frangipani,
Hoarfrost, Hot Fuzz
Jalja La, June
Kakapo, kestrels, kayaking
Lemurs, lily of the valley, lapis lazuli
Plums, plumbeous redstarts
Quiche, quokkas, QI
Rowing eights, rhubarb
Sinistrality, springtails, shooting stars
Thunderstorms, toast and marmalade,
Wildebeasts, woodlice, wablers
World According to…. Dr Jane
Mountain / Desert / Ocean / Jungle... which one are you?
No doubt about it: it has to be jungle. I just love trees and all that live in them.
What was your first great travel experience?
David Attenborough’s Zoo Quest to Madagascar first started me dreaming, but it wasn’t until I was 22 that I really started travelling – I drove the dope trail, overland to Kathmandu, via a few caves and a digression to Cape Comorin.
What has been your favourite journey?
A month long trek with my family: from Baglung and Beni, W. Nepal, up over the 11,500ft Jalja La into towering ancient hemlock forest and on through astonishing glades of magnolias.
Which are your Top 5 places worldwide?
Ankarana Reserve, Madagascar; Annapurna Reserve, Nepal; Tetibatu, Lombok; Kruger National Park;
the Lima to Huancayo railway journey, Peru.
Recommend a special place to stay...
Crystal Springs private reserve, South Africa.
Which three items do you always pack?
Torch, notebook and insect repellent.
Which passport stamp are you proudest of?
Nepal – the first time.
Which passport stamp would you most like to have?
Guyana – I’d love to work there.
What is your guilty travel pleasure?
Bathing / swimming naked in open water – but I’m always nervous of scaring the locals.