I was born in Blackpool, a seaside resort in the north of England, famous for its tower - a great Victorian structure along the lines of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. At an early age my family moved to south London, and I went with them. It wasn’t the wild countryside that brought me to natural history – it was London itself. When still a small boy I found myself at The Natural History Museum and became entranced by all the specimens on display. Then as I raked south London streets (still very young), I discovered antique shops! At that time they were full of the most fascinating curiosities, and among them were items just like those I’d seen at the museum – fossils, nineteenth century collections of stuffed birds etc. etc. And these items were so out of fashion that they could be had for very small amounts of money. So, along with antique clocks, paintings, musical instruments, and all manner of other interesting objects, I acquired whatever I could, whenever I could scrape together the money to do so.
And these acquisitions have framed my life. They led me into the worlds of art, natural history, and music. As I grew older the necessity of earning a living forced me into a number of jobs, but I always wanted to escape and become a painter, and after a few years I did.
In terms of art I have only a passing interest in modernism, and prefer to look backwards. London, with its great galleries, exposed me to Rembrandt and all the other truly great painters of the past, and because entry was free I could go and look at them as often as I wished, work out how they had painted in the way they had, and try to understand the way in which they had composed their pictures.
The wish to write and produce books came a little later. I wanted a book on the subject of extinct birds, but there wasn’t one (at least not one that I could afford).
So I decided to make my own. It was then that I realized that the schoolteachers I had wrestled against and resisted had actually instilled in me the rules of literacy and given me the equipment to actually write. How they did that, I don’t know – but somehow they had managed it and for that I am truly grateful.
So now I divide my time between writing, painting and acquiring interesting objects. I paint and write from a studio in Kent, England, just south of London. The subject matter of my books is usually extinction, art, or the curiosities of natural history. Extinct Birds was my first foray into publishing after which I discovered that I liked to design the things as well as write them. So now I try to not let publishers touch my books until all the pages are completely laid out. My favourites among the books I’ve written are The Great Auk, Voodoo Salon (a walk through the extraordinary world of taxidermy), and Drawn from Paradise, which I wrote and designed with Sir David Attenborough.
Recently I produced Lost Animals, a book of photos of now extinct mammals and birds featuring photographs taken before they vanished forever, and a catalogue raisonné of the work of the early twentieth century etcher of architectural subjects, Hedley Fitton.
My own paintings (always painted in oils) only rarely feature animals, birds or other natural history subjects. Instead they often depict snooker, boxing or other slightly disreputable sports. The best of them is shown on my website: errolfuller.com and there are a few on my wikipedia entry.
Below is a list of my books
1987. Extinct Birds. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-670-81787-0.
1990. Kiwis. Seto Publishing Auckland. ISBN 0-908697-49-X.
1995. The Lost Birds of Paradise. Swan Hill Press. ISBN 1-85310-566-X
1999. The Great Auk. Privately published. ISBN 0-9533553-0-6
2000. Extinct Birds. Revised ed. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850837-9
2002. Dodo: From Extinction to Icon. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-714572-1
Hoyo, J. and Elliott, A. (2002). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 7: Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Introductory essay by Errol Fuller. Barcelona: Lynx Editions.
2003. The Dodo: Extinction in Paradise. Bunker Hill Publishing Inc.
2003. The Great Auk: The Extinction of the Original Penguin. Bunker Hill.
2004. Mammoths: Giants of the Ice Age. Bunker Hill.
2004. Lost Worlds. Doha, Qatar: National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage. ISBN 99921-58-29-8
2009. Dana Quarry and Its Dinosaurs. Dinosauria International. ISBN 978-0-9533553-3-4.
2010. Hedley Fitton: The Accent of Truth. Southern Cross the Dog Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9533553-2-7
Attenborough, David and Fuller, Errol (2012). Drawn from Paradise: The Discovery, Art and Natural History of the Birds of Paradise. HarperCollins, UK. ISBN 978-0-00-748761-5
2013. Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1408172155
2014. Voodoo Salon. Summers Place Auctions, Billingshurst., Sussex.
2014. The Passenger Pigeon. Princeton University Press.