Writer, naturalist and musician


Gwendolen Howard was a British naturalist and musician best known for her unique bird studies that appeared in British natural history periodicals and in two books: Birds as Individuals (1952) and Living with Birds (1956), both published under her pseudonym Len Howard.

Howard pursued a music career in London, where she gave music lessons, organized concerts for children of the poor, and played viola in an orchestra under Malcolm Sargent. In 1938, she purchased a plot of land outside the village of Ditchling and built the house she called Bird Cottage. There she developed an intimate and unusual relationship with the wild birds in the area, providing food (including her own war rations), chasing away predators, tending to damaged nests, and allowing the birds to fly and roost throughout her home. In order to protect the birds, Howard gave strict instructions to those who ventured to visit her or contact her at Bird Cottage. Howard's musical training gave her unique insight into birdsong, and the final section of her first book, Birds as Individuals is devoted to an in-depth analysis of this topic.

Howard died at Bird Cottage in 1973.

Photograph of Len Howard by David Moore (c) Lisa Michael Matthew and Joshua Moore​​