Dr William Arthur Lee (1870–1931)

Published in Issue 5 (September/October 2021), Volume 29

Above: Greaves was much impressed and influenced by Dr Lee, who was of Irish descent and a radical in his political views. (North Western Naturalist, December 1931)

William Lee was fifteen years of age when he joined the Liverpool postal service as a telegraphist, rising through the ranks of the department to become its chief superintendent. He also dedicated himself to academic study and natural history research, and by 1902 he had achieved a BA. He followed that up with an MA (Dublin, 1906) and three years later with a Ph.D at the Royal University of Ireland. Dr Lee was interested in the Welsh language and could speak Irish, and he undertook studies on the names of field plants in both languages. He used to cycle round Ireland with his sister Annie every holiday, even during the years of the Irish revolutionary period. They collected samples of lichens in counties ranging from Donegal to Wicklow and contributed their records to Matilda Cullen Knowles’s pioneering book Lichens of Ireland, which was published by the Royal Irish Academy in 1929.

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