Last night I had the most spectacular evening at the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, to celebrate the launch of Kate Mosse’s new novel The Taxidermist’s Daughter! The Horniman is a beautiful set of buildings housing a collection of cool objects and natural history specimens. I’ve been waiting for the release of this novel for months, and I actually mentioned it in my blog post about Jamaica Inn in April. Kate was inspired by the infamous collection of Victorian amateur taxidermist Walter Potter, which featured creepy tableaux such as ‘Kitten Wedding’ and ‘Gambling Squirrels’.
The evening started with a discussion between Kate Mosse and Sandi Toksvig about her inspiration for the novel, and afterwards I got my copy of the novel signed and talked to her about seeing the Potter collection at Jamaica Inn. Then I met one of my favourite authors on extinction, Errol Fuller, who’s book Lost Animals I mentioned in my summer reading post! He was giving a talk about the weird world of taxidermy.
Afterwards we listened to a presentation by ethical taxidermist Jazmine Miles-Long! She only uses animals that have died from natural causes, and it was absolutely fascinating listening to the complex processes involved in taxidermy. It’s a surprisingly clean and creative craft, and although I’m not sure I would have the stomach to do it myself, I would love to give it a go. I also found it really interesting how she chooses not to work with domestic pets, as the pressure of recreating such a beloved friend is too stressful. I can really relate to this when doing pet portraits; it’s easy to draw a wild animal, but trying to draw a specific animal that is so familiar to the family is very hard to perfect!
It was a fantastic evening and I cannot wait to crack on with the novel! I also got a delicious photo with this miserable fox.
The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse is published by Orion and available now!