These childhood letters reveal how David Attenborough’s love of nature goes way, way back

A series of letters have been published revealing glimpses into the early life of the iconic naturalist


90-year-old David Attenborough truly has had a lifelong love of the natural world – and these letters prove it.


A series of letters, published by the University of Leicester, show how the broadcaster was interested in the natural world from childhood.

The broadcaster lived on the university college campus with his family in the 1940s, and the letters by his father Frederick, the university’s principal, speak of his son’s love of science and geology.

The letters also reveal how Frederick withheld consent for his son to to enrol in the AA Battery of the Home Guard during World War Two.


Frederick wrote of his son in 1944, “He is to take the Higher Schools Certificate Examination shortly and his future plans are uncertain.”

The final letter, sent in September 1944, reads: “My second son David hopes to be a geologist. He has just taken a Higher Schools, London, and has gained exemption from Inter by passing in Geology, Botany, Zoology and Chemistry. He wants to sit for a scholarship to Cambridge in March in Geology, Biology and Chemistry.”


There’s more information, plus the original letters, here at the University of Leicester archive website.