F. Martin Duncan: British naturalist (1873 - 1961) | Biography, Bibliography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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F. Martin Duncan
British naturalist

F. Martin Duncan

F. Martin Duncan
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro British naturalist
Was Naturalist
From United Kingdom
Field Biology Science Social science
Gender male
Birth 1873
Death 1961 (aged 88 years)
The details (from wikipedia)


Francis Duncan Smith (1873–1961) was a British naturalist and nature documentary pioneer who worked for producer Charles Urban. He specialised in micro-cinematography and pioneered many of the techniques of future natural history filmmaking.


He was the son of noted palaeontologist Peter Martin Duncan. While a student he assisted his father by taking up photography, and acquired a particular interest in microphotography. In the early 1890s he experimented with chronophotography (sequence photography), showing the results in motion on a Zoetrope.

He was recruited by Charles Urban for the newly formed Charles Urban Trading Company in 1903. Together they launched a film series, The Unseen World, showcased at the Alhambra Theatre in London from 17 August 1903, which showed scenes of animal life, with particular emphasis on micro-cinematographic views. The shows were advertised as being shown by the 'Urban-Duncan Micro-Bioscope'. Among the films shown were Circulation of Blood in a Frog's Foot, Red Sludge Worms and the notorious The Cheese Mites, the views of which were preceded by a scene of a man (played by Duncan himself) horrified by what he sees when he views a piece of Stilton through a magnifying glass. Duncan continued to work for Urban until 1908, when he was succeeded by F. Percy Smith.

He continued his career as a zoologist at London Zoo and as a populariser of nature subjects, writing many books. He also worked as an editor on some of the Secrets of Nature film series in the 1920s.


  • The Unseen World (1903) (series, including The Cheese Mites)
  • Studies of Natural History (1903) (series)
  • The Busy Bee (1903) (series)
  • Marine Studies (1903) (series)
  • The Empire of the Ants (1906)
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