Obituary: Professor Ronald Good

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Ronald D'Oyley Good, botanist, born 5 March 1896, Professor of Botany Hull University 1928-59, married 1927 Patty Griffith (died 1975; one daughter), died 11 December 1992.

RONALD GOOD was born in Dorchester in 1896 and retained throughout his life a love and interest in 'his' county. Although first and foremost a botanist of world repute, his interest in all things Dorsetshire inspired a steady stream of publications: The Old Roads of Dorset (1940), the classic A Geographical Handbook of the Dorset Flora (1948), The Last Villages of Dorset (1979) and his Concise Flora of Dorset (1984), besides many articles in journals.

Good's life and academic development were rudely interrupted by the First World War. He entered the Dorset Regiment, and later the Lincolnshire Regiment, and while serving in the trenches was wounded and invalided home. He went to Downing College, Cambridge (where he was Senior Scholar), and took an MA and Sc D. His driving interest in botany saw him appointed to the staff of the Botany Department of the Natural History Museum in 1922, where he remained until 1928 in the Gamopetalae section.

His interest in imparting his knowledge and sense of wonder in the plant kingdom drew him to the college and university environment. He entered what is now Hull University in 1928, where in the Botany Department he eventually became Head of Department, a post he held until his retirement in 1959. His time at Hull saw the development of three different themes to his research interest. The first in plant utilisation, which led to his Plants and Human Economics (1933). The second, and no doubt the central theme of all his interests, in Plant Geography. His book The Geography of the Flowering Plants was published in 1948, based on a text prepared in 1939 but held up by the Second World War. This immediately became the standard reference work, which nearly 50 years on and several editions later is still a key work in botany. His third and closely related research interest was the evolutionary process in plants, and in 1956 Features of Evolution in Flowering Plants appeared, followed in 1981 by The Philosophy of Evolution.

Many of the topics covered in these volumes and his scientific papers highlighted man's role in the transfer and destruction of plants around the world and the consequences for mankind long before it became an area of popular concern.

Comments