Jane Wilson-Howarth

About the Author

 
 

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 books in an eco-adventure series for 8 to 12-year-olds. I live in the Kathmandu Valley Nepal and when the mists clear I can see the Himalayas. 


Author time line

2018 (September) - launch of our anthology of travellers tales 50 Camels and She's Yours
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 in the subcontinent
2016 (August) - publication of Himalayan Kidnap: the first Alex and James eco-adventure in Nepal by Eifrig
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 & 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 available for Kindle readers
2013 (Spring) - A Glimpse of Eternal Snows released in the US
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-on-demand and Kindle edition of How to Shit Around the World published
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
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
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 to write regular travel health pieces 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

She has three novels and five non-fiction books in print so far :

 

 

Biographical stuff

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 younger 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 long 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 funding six months zoological research in the Himalayan region
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
Cycling, coffee
Dragonflies, dung beetles
Eccles cakes, Earl Grey, Echinops
Family, friends, frangipani,

Grasshoppers, gooseberries
Hoarfrost, Hot Fuzz
Indri
Jalja La, June
Kakapo, kestrels, kayaking
Lemurs, lily of the valley, lapis lazuli
Marmots, mouse-hares
Nilgai
Oleander, oranges

Plums, plumbeous redstarts
Quiche, quokkas, QI
Rowing eights, rhubarb
Sinistrality, springtails, shooting stars
Thunderstorms, toast and marmalade,
Uncertainty
Vangas, vajra

Wildebeasts, woodlice, wablers
Xenopus
Yaks
Zebus.

 

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.

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