Prudence Hero Napier
Prudence Hero Napier was one of Britain's most eminent primatologists, and the world's leading expert on the taxonomy of primates. She was the widow of the primatologist
Primatology is the scientific study of primates. It is a diverse discipline and researchers can be found in academic departments of anatomy, anthropology, biology, medicine, psychology, veterinary sciences and zoology, as well as in animal sanctuaries, biomedical research facilities, museums and zoos...

, John Napier
John Napier (primatologist)
John Russell Napier, MRCS, LRCP, D.Sc. was a British primatologist, paleoathropologist, and physician, who is notable for his work with Homo habilis and OH 7, as well as on human and primate hands/feet...



Prudence was born in Liverpool in 1916, the daughter of Sir Hugo Rutherford
Sir Hugo Rutherford, 2nd Baronet
Sir Hugo Rutherford, 2nd Baronet was a Conservative party politician in the United Kingdom.He was Member of Parliament for Liverpool Edge Hill from 1931 to 1935....

. In 1936 she married John Napier, a surgeon who was developing a particular interest in the hand. During the 1950s he became convinced that human functional anatomy could not be properly understood without a knowledge of non-human primates and, with Prudence's help, founded the Unit of Primatology in the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, which was the first centre in Great Britain devoted to the study of non-human primates.

Prudence joined her husband in his work and increasingly set out on her own. She contributed to A Handbook of Living Primates (New York: Academic Press, 1967, with John Russell Napier), the first book of its kind.

She was the foremost contributor to children's books on non-human primates during the 1960s and 1970s.

Selected bibliography

  • 1967: A Handbook of Living Primates (New York: Academic Press, with John Russell Napier)
  • 1970: Old World Monkeys: Evolution, Systematics, and Behavior (New York: Academic Press, with John Russell Napier)
  • 1974: Chimpanzees (London: Bodley Head)
  • 1977: Lemurs, Lorises, and Bushbabies (London: Bodley Head, with Colin Threadgall)
  • 1988: The Natural History of the Primates (Cambridge: MIT Press, with John Russell Napier)
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