Miss Gulielma Lister F.L.S. remembered

Miss Gulielma Lister F.L.S. remembered

III Volume 13, Part 2, May 1999 Miss Gulielma Lister F.L.S. remembered E. F. HASKINS Department of Botany, Box 351330, University of Washington, Sea...

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Volume 13, Part 2, May 1999

Miss Gulielma Lister F.L.S. remembered E. F. HASKINS Department of Botany, Box 351330, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-1330 U.S.A.

Nearly 50 years have elapsed since the passing of Gulielma Lister (Fig 1), a pre-eminent student of the plasmodial slime molds (myxomycetes). Miss Lister was born on 28 October, 1860, in the family home, Sycamore House, Leytonstone, East London, and died there on 18 May, 1949. The Listers, a Quaker family equally known for their good works and career achievements, included Arthur Lister (Miss Lister's father, a world authority on the Mycetozoa), a grandfather, J.J. Lister, microscopist and physicist, and an uncle, Lord Lister, an eminent physician, who perfected antiseptic surgery (Ainsworth and Balfour-Browne, 1960; Fisher, 1977; Lang, 1961; Ramsbottom, 1949; Wakefield,

Fig 1 Miss Gulielma Lister.

1950). With the exception of one year spent at Bedford College for Women when she was sixteen, her education was taken at home. She remained a zealous field and laboratory associate of her father as they entered their daily observations on myxomycetes into the research notebooks (Ainsworth, 1952, 1972) while studying at either Sycamore House, Leytonstone, or at their seaside home, Highcliff at Lyme Regis. After the death of her father in 1908, Miss Lister became the premier authority on myxomycetes (Lister, 1925) and thus began a world-wide correspondence with workers who shared her keen interest in these organisms. In Lyme Regis, Gulie Lister, as she was addressed by her friends, was highly regarded as a sympathetic and unselfish person. One of her surviving contributions to this locality was a volume, now known as the Lister Thesaurus, compiled from notes, newspaper cuttings, photographs, and drawings documenting Lyme and its surroundings. Mr. John Fowles, Honorary Curator of the Lyme Regis (Philpot) Museum, reports that this volume is still in existence. Ms. Muriel Arber recounts, "Gulielma Lister and my mother (the late Agnes Arber, FRS) first met when my mother was still at school, and Gulie came to speak to the scientific society. Finding my mother's enthusiasm, she gave her a little box containing an exquisitely mounted and labelled collection of myxomycetes. "I first met Gulie when on a holiday in lodgings at Lyme Regis in 1922. Gulie and her sisters Bella and Edith still spent every spring and summer at Highcliff, the house that their father and uncle Lord Lister bought in 1870. They gave up the house after Bella's death in 1928. After that we occasionally saw Gulie in London or Cambridge, and my mother corresponded regularly and I exchanged letters with her. She was a delightful and most unusual person. She shared the culture and artistic ability of the Lister family, but her devotion to natural history was paramount. She had a deep knowledge of flora and of fauna (especially birds),

Volume 13, Part 2, May 1999 and a very high standard of the knowledge that she expected other people also to possess! She could of course dra w exquisite ly, and I wa s conscious as a child that she was rather taken aback by the crudity of my drawings!" During h er lifetim e Miss List er rec eived num erous honours. In 1904, when women were first adm itted to memb ership , she was elected a fellow of th e Linnean Society. T wice, in 1912 and again in 1932, she was elected President of the British Mycolo gical Soci ety. During 1916-1919 she was pre sid ent of the Essex Fi eld Club. For a numb er of years she was Chair of the School Natur e Study Union. From 1917 until her death, Miss Lister was a Trust ee of th e Botani cal R es ear ch Fund, an effort to which she lent her generous support over the years. As Dr Grace Waterhouse recalls, "T he fund was initiated prior to the First World War by a few pr ominen t wome n bot ani sts to fin an ce wom en in th eir effo rts t o condu ct botani cal resear ch. Money was eventually raised to buy a microscope and to rent a site at Bedford College, Regents Park, Lond on, upon which a small five-ro om lab orat or y was built. Unfortunate ly after two years the site had t o be relinquished . However, over time, through the acquisition of gifts and legacies, t he Botanical Research Fund prospered sufficien tl y so that awards could be made to research workers." The memories recorded informally by Miss Eliz ab eth M. Blackwell (Wat erhouse, 1973), a conte m por ary British mycologist , provide a unique recollection of Miss Lister. "I often think of h er : a viv id p erson ali t y, ta ll , sle n de r, hand some, dignified but grac ious and so kind. She was a perfect gentlewoma n wit h an oldworld courtesy. I hold many mind -pictur es of her speaking qui etly and wise ly at gathe rings of mycologist s. I see h er a regul ar atten der at meetings of the Linn ean Society, ente ring the lecture room and turning left int o the fourt h or fifth row from the front, whe re she would be joined by Miss Annie Lorraine-Smith , and Miss Noel. She wore a neat dark ta ilored suit and had re move d her hat in defer en ce to t he sexless characte r of a Fellow. It was an unu sual thing then for a lady to remove her hat , but we all took our cue from Miss Lister and did the same. I see her on Fungus Forays in an older but still neat dark suit, a broad-brimmed felt hat and low heeled comfort able sh oes, her slim agile figure

bent among bracken and brambl es, untiring in her search for myxos." In the field she was never separated from her collecting basket cont aining boxes for collecting myxomycetes and her famous te lescope used for bi rd wat ching. She had a uniqu e ability to tra ns mit her love of natural history to ot hers such as Mr. W. D. Graddon who rem ini sces, "It is , of cour se, around 50 years since I was in regular cont act with Miss Lister. I was then a yo ung m ember of th e E ssex Fi eld Club in which Miss Lister was eminent and she soon had me interested in the my cet ozoa. I lived within easy reach of her home and I used to take specimens t o her. One of these visit s remains vividly in my mind wh en I too k Coma tric ha tenerrima; Miss Lister was delight ed with t his and, at once, reached for her paint box and sketched a group of seven (x 40) and wrote about the find -the first record for Essex- below the sketch. Thi s painting is one of my treasures and a phot ocopy was mad e (Fig 2) t o show h ow steady her hand was in 1939. "Miss Lister was in regular corresponde nce with the then emperor of Japan. I only know t his because, at an indoor meeting of the Essex Field Club, she brought along an elegant silk-lined box

( ) I

Fig 2 Miss List er's sketch of Mr. W. D. Graddon's slime mold collection.

Volume 13, Part 2, May 1999 containing a lovely pair of Japanese enamel vases which th e emperor had sent in 1933 to thank her for all her help with his study of mycet ozoa. She ha stened t o add t hat all com munication had been t hrough an inte rm ediary as the emperor was too holy t o write personally." The for egoin g bi ographical da t a a n d recollections sum to commemorate th e life of a very approachable lad y, always ready t o help keen younger people. References

Lan g, W. D. (1961) The List ers, fat her an d dau ght er. Pr oceedings D orset Natural H ist ory Archaeological Society 83: 79-81. List er, A. (1925) A monograph of the Mycetozoa. 3rd ed. (revised by G. Li st er). British Museum (Na t ur al Hist ory) London. 296p. Ram sbott om, J. (1949) Miss Gulielma Lister. Nature 164: 94. Wa kefiel d, E . M . (19 50) Miss Gu lielma Li st e r. Transactions of the Brit ish Mycological Society. 33: 165-166. Wat erhouse, G. M. (1973) Obit ua ry Elizabeth Mariann e Blackwell. T ran sacti ons of the British Mycological Society. 61: 611-614.

Ainsworth, G. C. ( 1952) The Lister Not eb ooks . Transactions of the British Mycological Societ y. 35: 188-119. Ainsworth, G. C. (1972) T he List er Notebooks. Bulletin British Mycological Society. 6: 17. Ainswo rt h, G. C. a n d F . L. B alfour-Brown e.(1 960) Gulielma List er centenary. Nature 188: 362-363. Fisher, R. B. (1977) Joseph Lister. Stein and Day, New York. 351 p.

Acknowledgments I especially thank Mrs. Dowrick for providing the portrait of Miss Lister, the lat e Dr. Waterhouse fo r making availabl e Mi s s Blackwell's unpublished rem embran ce of Miss Lister, and Mr. John Fowles for providing information and encouragement.

Phellinus cavicola and British records previously assigned to P. umbrinellus MARTYN AINSWORTH Microbial Products Department, X enova Discovery Limited, 545 Ipswi ch R oad, Sl ough SLl 4E Q. Berkshire. Phellinus umbrinellus (Bres.) Ryvard en wa s reported as new t o Europe by Ryvarden (1994) on the basis of a basidiome growing on the lower side of a Quercus branch in ancient woodland at Ruislip, Middlesex. Mat erial was collected there on 9 September 1992 durin g a foray arr anged as part of the XI Congress of European Mycologists based at Kew. This collection was also report ed as New Briti sh Record 108 (Spooner, 1994) and describ ed in th e second volume of European Polypore s (Ryvarde n & Gilb ertson, 1994 ). A se cond Briti sh collection was made by A. M.

Ainsworth & E. E. Green from inside a hollow Fagus trunk in Windsor Forest, Berkshire, on 31 March 1995 (Fig 1) and described as Profiles of Fungi 74 (Ain sworth, 1996) with material deposited in Edinburgh, Kew and Oslo Herbari a. The descripti on of P. cavicola Kotl. & Pouzar was based on ma terial collect ed from ins ide a holl ow st u m p of Acer, n ear Pra gu e, Czech R epublic (Kotlab a & Pouzar, 199 5). Thes e au thors al so ex am ine d h erbarium mat erial originally collected from within an Ulmus stump, Bulgaria, in 1975 and identified it as P. cavicola

Table 1. Data for t hree species of Phellinus, from Kotlaba & Pouzar (1995), including "amended size range from Kotla ba & Pouzar (1997). -------


P. umbrin ellus P. cavicola P. inermis

- --_. ----- ------


Pore size

thi ckness (mm).


-_ ._--._- --- - - -- -



. _.

- --


Basidiospore size (urn)

Up to 5


4-4.7 x 3-3.8



*(4-) 4.7-5.5 (-5.9) x (3-) 3.5-4.5 (-5)

Up to 6


5-6 x 4-4.5