By Christine Verguson

A book has been launched celebrating Tolson Museum’s first curator and pioneering naturalist Seth Lister Mosley.

Huddersfield Local History Society’s latest publication, Nature’s Missionary: Seth Lister Mosley: Naturalist, Museum Curator and Mystic 1848-1929, was launched on Remembrance weekend.

Not only was Mosley the museum’s first curator but the museum was also in many ways his creation as this beautifully-illustrated book by historian Alan Brooke shows.

And in addition to his lifelong ‘mission’ to establish a museum in his home town of Huddersfield, Mosley was also known further afield as a taxidermist, illustrator, naturalist, journal editor and newspaper columnist.

While Mosley made important contributions to the popularisation of science, he can also be seen as an early exponent of environmentalism but until now his life has been largely under-explored.

It was author Mr Brooke’s interest in the role that technological change has played in history that first led him to research the story of Seth Lister Mosley. The new publication is the result of decades of research.

Huddersfield Local History Society’s chair Cyril Pearce said: “Alan’s work successfully places Mosley within the complex scientific, religious and political context of his time, and in doing so paints an unerringly accurate portrait of a complex man.”

Gifted to the town by Legh Tolson in memory of his two nephews who were killed in the First World War, the Tolson Memorial Museum opened in 1922.

Huddersfield Local History Society’s publications secretary David Griffiths said: “We’ve been working with our colleagues in the Museums Service and the Friends of Tolson and Ravensknowle Park to celebrate the museum’s centenary.

“As the museum is itself a War Memorial it is fitting that the book was launched on Remembrance weekend.”

Often radical and rarely conformist, Mosley’s views on areas such as religion, women’s equality, environmentalism and conservation challenge many of our assumptions about Victorian and Edwardian society.

Nature Missionary: Seth Lister Mosley, Naturalist, Museum Curator and Mystic 1848-1929 (264 pages, paperback, in-text illustrations, 16 pages of full colour plates, £15.00, ISBN 978-0-9929841-5-1) is available from bookshops and from Huddersfield Local History Society’s website (

The publication of Nature’s Missionary has also been supported by a grant from the society for the Study of Labour History.