Sunday, 24 December 2017

Constance Whyte's other book on the Loch Ness Monster

Nessie researchers will be aware of Constance Whyte's seminal book on the monster entitled "More Than A Legend" published in 1957 which went on to become a classic and influenced many a monster hunter in the 1960s such as Tim Dinsdale and even Frank Searle. But before this she had written an anonymous article for the now defunct King's College Hospital Gazette (Spring 1950; vol. 29, no. 1) which she eventually made into a booklet simply entitled "The Loch Ness Monster" published in 1950.

That this article had some influence amongst Loch Ness notables is illustrated by this statement from Richard Fitter, one of the co-founders of the Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau:

At this point I must interject a personal note. My own interest in Nessie was first aroused by reading a pamphlet entitled The Loch Ness Monster, written anonymously by Dr. Constance Whyte and reprinted from the King's College Hospital Gazette of 1950 (Anon., 1950).

Copies of this booklet are excessively rare and the only time I recall seeing it for sale was on eBay a few years back when it went for about £250. However, I managed to find a copy held by the National Library of Scotland and scanned the book for my own research. But now I think it is only appropriate  that others get to see this work for the simple reason that it is unlikely that this work is going to be ever republished and finding a copy for reading is going to be limited to a very small number of libraries.

So enjoy the read as one of Nessie's most famous advocates sharpens her pen. I would also point out that this copy would appear to be a personal copy of Constance Whyte as on page 13 it has a margin annotation with her signature which just adds to the weight of this work. I would also note that Constance Whyte wrote another article for the Gazette just prior to her more famous book being published in 1957. If I can get a copy of that, I will post it in due time.

I thank King's College Hospital Archives for giving permission to reproduce the article.

A Merry Christmas to all readers!


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com
















25 comments:

  1. The Latin at the end is interesting. Referring to Loch Tay, it says "In that lake are three wonders:
    A floating island
    Fish without intestines
    Waves without wind."
    The list is very like one from Loch Lomond
    http://lochnessmystery.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/ad-1658-floating-island-of-loch-ness.html
    except that where Loch Lomond has fish without fins, Loch Tay has fish without intestines. Does anyone know what that might mean?

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  2. Fascinating, typically tough to track down article. Constance Whyte really is the Godmother to the creature in the modern era. Knew you'd dig deep for Chrimbo. And on that note...

    Merry Xmas to Glasgow Boy and everyone who contributes to this blog!

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  3. Looking forward to reading this, and a happy Christmas to you too.

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  4. Thank you so much for this account, Roland...absolutely fascinating. Also, thank you, David for the Latin translation. Merry Christmas to all this blog's readers.

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  5. I echo Riitta's sentiments - think you kindly for the article and a happy new year to all when it arrives! Keep on hunting...

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  6. What an awesome Crimble pressie! I have mangaged to aquire a copy of Whyte's book, but thought I'd never ever see this one. Thanks!

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  7. Great Christmas gift, Roland. Thank you. And Happy New Year to all.

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  8. I love reading this topic. If I could have had a pint with Tim Dinsdale, Bob Rines, Constance Whyte, Ted Holiday, Edward Mountain, or some of the classic sighting witnesses like Father Gregory, Greta Finley, or Bob Badger I would be foaming at the mouth with interest!
    I don't know much about the early era of Nessie searching 1933-1953 or so, I'm aware of Constance Whyte but have not read her books. This was great to read, thanks Roland!
    Winnifred Carey would be another person of interest to talk Nessie for me, repeated sightings would be a gold mine.

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  9. Great read, Roland, and excellent find. I wish that Whyte had followed up her earlier work with a reappraisal ofnthe information once she became disenchanted by James, Dinsdale, Rines, et al. The fact that she turned her back on the mystery is interesting, particularly since she was so key in its mainstream resurgence.

    Happy New Year, and thanks for the read!

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    1. When you say 'turned her back on the mystery' I don't really know what you mean. Did she just not write another book on it, or are you saying she actively turned against the notion of the existence of the animals? Those are two very different things so I'd be delighted to receive some further information.

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    2. I just went back over "Monstrous Commotion". I think Whyte was a believer in the monster to the very end. What she was disenchanted with and turned her back on was the LNIB and James putting publicity and money above proper research.

      Whyte to Scott in 1976: ‘the denial by the zoological establishment of facts that are beyond argument is a disservice to the cause of TRUTH’

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    3. Thank you Roland, that clears it up. I think Erik Kristopher Myers was implying some big turnaround in Constance's views about the Loch Ness animals. It would appear that either I misinterpreted what Erik Kristopher was saying, or he was wrong.

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    4. Good old Roland, we can always rely on you to get the facts right.

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  10. Fascinating read. Many thanks, GB. Happy New Year to all!

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  11. Maybe Whyte herself cooled towards the LMN in the 1960s when after many years of concerted effort the LNIB turned up diddly squat new evidence.
    In the pamphlet she regards the land sightings as of little interest, not having read her book [ I know ] I wonder if she continued to hold that opinion.

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    1. See my above comments. I would love to see the real truth behind the LNIB's surveillance. The impression given is that it was a well oiled machine ruthlessly and dispassionately surveying every square inch of the loch.

      Given the vissisitudes of human nature, I suspect the truth is closer to chaos than order.

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    2. It was the age of the hippies after all. Probably mostly students getting up to all sorts while 'experimenting' in ways their post-war parents would disapprove of. I also doubt there was anything like the level of diligence implied by those serious-looking camera stations and LNIB vans.

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    3. I've read some of the LNIB annual reports. I thought they were very well put together, erring on the overly positive on the interpretation of the evidence but will presented and professional. I'm sure there were some nutters in their ranks and that many aspects were unprofessional but it certainly led to highly professional and well organised searches in later years by former members. And compared to the level of organisation nowadays... well, it's not really comparable is it? It's basically Steve Feltham, Rolland, some of the posters on here... and me when I can drag my girlfriend there every 2 or 3 years, seriously throwing my relationship into jeopardy every time. I used to take an old GF there too when i was a student but she was smart enough to dump me.

      Not read More Than A Legend but it's clear Whyte had a very smart take on it. I like that she offers no solutions (Gould's mistake for which he was attacked for). I personally give the land sightings zero credibility either as they are completely anomalous to all other reported behaviour but I still love reading about them. It simply cannot be an air breather or we'd see it often - and if it comes onto land it would be found quickly too - particularly if there's a breeding colony. Or... and I concede this is a possibility... there was one single unusual animal which died in the 50s/60s or sometime before.

      PS A Monstrous Commotion is an absolute masterpiece in my opinion.

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    4. I dont rule out air breathers myself, there are a few animals that breathe air that have also adapted to taking in oxygen through their skin.Not likely maybe, but possible.

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  12. No, you misinterpreted (or I wasn’t clear). She walked away from the mystery and refused to update her book (opening the door for Witchell) because she was, as Roland says, disenchanted with James, Dinsdale, and the rest. She dumped her research into a suitcase and there it remained until her daughter passed it on to Witchell.

    But she remained a believer until the end, so far as we know.

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    1. Thanks for the clarification. I wasn't aware that Whyte was unimpressed by Tim Dinsdale. Sorry to be a pain, but does anyone have a link to something which goes into that in more depth? It seems strange that she'd feel that way, given his championing of her book. I do wonder which aspects of Mr Dinsdale's behaviour caused her concern.

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    2. A Monstrous Commotion covers it extremely well if you can get yer hands on a copy. Dinsdale comes across as incredibly passionate but too full on. Personally I think he was awesome and I love that fact he only claimed 2 further partial sightings. It lends credibility to his film and his own integrity even if you think the film is a boat. Though I remember reading one of his books as a lad and thinking it was a bit lightweight.

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    3. Definitely check out "A Monstrous Commotion," where Dinsdale's breathless hyperbole (evident in his own writings) is confirmed as being somewhat off-putting in real life. His near-harassment of the Queen was news to me prior to reading about it!

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  13. It has been mooted that Tim could be abrasive and aloof. Also I wonder if Whyte was disillusioned with engineer Dinsdale's scientific rigour and practicality in trying to solve the mystery, and, in true League Of Gentleman style she thought it was a local monster for local people and resented the meddling of incomers.

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