Elected FRS 1985
Miriam Louisa Rothschild was born at Ashton Wold, Northampton, on 5 August 1908 and died there on 20 January 2005, at the age of 96. She had no traditional education, but was tutored in natural history by her father and her uncle. Her first scientific studies were on parasites of marine snails and seabirds, but one of her principal achievements was the six–volume work cataloguing the Rothschild flea collection over a 30–year period. Her other main area of research was the chemical ecology of insects, particularly in mimicry, and the sequestering of toxic compounds from plants, in which she was a pioneer. She was still actively working in this area at the time of her death. Parts of her house and glasshouses were modified for research, but much of her chemical ecological work was performed in collaboration with some of the best natural–product chemists in the world. Nature conservation was dear to her heart and she developed the production of wildflower seeds on her farm and techniques for their establishment; she also lobbied energetically on behalf of nature reserves. She combined all this with the management of a large estate including a profitable farm, and was much loved by her tenants.