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bordering on the eccentric, far from the dry authority of the laboratory, damp in his
or her chosen field. The naturalist's delicate balance of attachment and detachment
regarding nature is matched in his or her relationship to society.
It is again appropriate to approach this version of animal—human through key
individuals who became known for a particular voicing of the region. The key local
figure in this case was Ted Ellis, natural history keeper at Norwich Castle Museum
from 1928 till 1956 and resident at Wheatfen on the River Yare from 1946 until his
death in 1986; the surrounding marshes are now in the care of the Ted Ellis Trust.
Ellis was prominent in the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society and Norfolk
Naturalists Trust, contributed nature notes to the Eastern Daily Press and the
Guardian, and edited the New Naturalist volume on The Broads (Ellis 1965, 1998;
Stone 1988). 1 He was also something of a radio and television personality, making
regular appearances on BBC TV's regional Look East programme. 2 Ellis began a
1952 essay on 'Wild Life in Broadland' by addressing different possible readers:
You may be a summer voyager upon the waterways of this North Sea lowland,
… You may be a week-end angler and dreamer,… Perhaps you journey in
search of the fantastic bittern, to catch a glimpse of the swallow-tail butterfly
in all its glory,… Belonging, you may keep cattle on our vast green levels or
be concerned with the mowing of ronds and the slubbing of dykes in season.
Whether you find yourself here for a day or a lifetime, mysteries will crowd
upon you and the peace that is felt in solitude will be yours in the midst of
this land of bright waters, jungle wildernesses and twinkling facets of life on
every side.
(Ellis 1952:185)
Here, as elsewhere in his work, Ellis addressed different modes of being in
Broadland as equal forms of access: cruising, fishing, bird- and butterfly-watching,
farming. Shooting is a notable absence, and if farming denotes 'belonging', even
that does not give it cultural priority. It is on 'our', not the farmer's, green levels
that cattle are kept; Broadland is a place of common cultural ownership, and ideally
of common access, and if some do conduct themselves inappropriately, then they
might be educated out of it to take their place in the landscape.
Ellis's public role was furthered by appearances on radio; by 1957 he was
experienced enough to do a series of live early evening talks on the Midland Home
Service, Through East Anglian Eyes, telling of the Broads by night, of harvest time
and beach life, and of the undergrowth. Ellis, 'probing the undergrowth',
encouraged his listeners on an intreprid and educational journey of reserved wonder
into an 'Aladdin's cave', a 'jungle' of marsh, bog and carr: 'I don't suppose you've
even thought of looking closely into the depths of a reedswamp, with your nose only
a few inches off the mud. It isn't likely to appeal to many people, I suppose' (Ellis
1957b). Ellis's Broads appear a strangely animate realm, where even the plants sing:
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