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  • Reviews for Richard Conniff’s Books

    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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The Species Seekers Quiz: Edgar Allan Poe’s Only Bestseller?

Posted by Richard Conniff on February 18, 2011

What was Edgar Allan Poe’s only bestseller during his lifetime?

Authors can look gloomy when books don't sell.

1.  The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, a sea adventure and his only novel.

2.  The Conchologist’s First Book, a textbook.

3.  The Balloon Hoax, an account of an astounding trans-Atlantic balloon trip.

4.  Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, a collection of his stories, in which “terror has been the thesis.”

And the answer is

The Conchologist’s First Book: Or a System of Testaceous Malacology was an illustrated school text published in 1839, 1840, and 1849.  It was an adaptation of The Manual of Conchology written by English author and lecturer Thomas Wyatt.

For a fee of $50, Poe wrote the preface, translated some French text by naturalist Georges Cuvier, and edited and reorganized the book’s accounts of animals and its taxonomy scheme.  The Conchologist’s First Book sold out within the first two months of publication, and was Poe’s only work to go into a second edition in his lifetime.

He received no royalties.

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