US Fish & Wildlife Service



Karen A. Smith

Date of this Version



Published in The Prairie Naturalist 28(1): March 1996. Used by permission.


In My Double Life, biologist Frances Hamerstrom reveals her evolution from an affluent childhood in early 1900s Boston to a rugged and spirited field biologist. She writes in first person with short, easy-reading chapters about her life, generally in chronological order from childhood to present. The anecdotes are concise, witty, and spiced with humor in her characteristic, blissful confidence. There are many unique black-and-white photographs reproduced, as well as pen-and-ink illustrations mostly by her artist-daughter, Elva Hamerstrom Paulson. Half of the book's chapters are borrowed from earlier works, in particular her award-winning Strictly for the Chickens (1980). This new book complements several more-or-Iess autobiographic works by presenting Hamerstrom's childhood adventures and exploits. Toward its closing, the book finds her in her mid-80s exploring primitive worlds by travelling with Pygmies and Indians in Africa and South America.