Field of Science

The Worst of Girault

Though most researchers have accepted the legitimacy of A. A. Girault's private publications, there are at least two taxa described therein that will almost certainly never see formal use.

The conflict between Girault and his then-manager Johann Illingworth (Illingworth was yet another person accused by Girault of placing economic considerations ahead of pure research and of crushing Girault's attempts to do otherwise) lead to Girault's 'publication' of the taxon Shillingsworthia shillingsworthi. Girault's description of this unusual micro-wasp1 reads:


Like Polynema but petiole, head, abdomen, mandibles absent. S. shillingsworthi, blank, vacant, inaneness perfect. Nulliebiety remarkable, visible only from certain points of view. Shadowless. An airy species whose flight cannot be followed except by the winged mind. From a naked chasm on Jupiter, August 5th, 1919.

This so thin genus is consecrated to Doctor Johann Francis Illingworth, in these days remarkable for his selfless devotion to entomology, not only sacrificing all of the comforts of life, but as well his health and reputation to the uncompromising search for truth and for love of "those filmy people of the air." Honour him!

More sinister than the description of fictional insects was Girault's naming of a new species of human - "New or Business Woman"2. Sadly, the 'proper role' of women was a prominent topic in many of Girault's later publications (one of its more unusual incarnations was the reference to Elizabeth I as the "madman Queen"3, 4). This was Girault's formal description of Homo perniciosus:

Abnormal female (loveless, without offspring); heart functionless; mammae aborted; psychology novel (as supposed) but artificial; gay, high-coloured, feral, brass-cheeked, shape lovely like Woman but nature hard (selfless, thoughtless, proud, unsympathetic, irresponsible, aggressive, irritant, insensible, luxurious, pugnacious, over-active, inquisitive, mischievous, voracious and even carnivorous; antagonistic, ungentle, immodest, critical, competitive, poisonous); conduct unstable (even inclined to treachery), the lips compressed, body strong. Everywhere but rare in natural habitat.
From young adults, these commonest, 1923, Australia.

1Some insects never before seen by Mankind. 1920.
2Homo perniciosus and new Hymenoptera. 1924.
3Some Insecta and a new All Highness. (Notes compiled in fear and sorrow). 1928.
4Description of a case of lunacy in Homo and of new six-legged articulates. 1929.



  1. Do you happen to know of an online source of the full text of "Homo perniciosus and new Hymenoptera", or even a more recent printed edition? I've been trying to find it since I read this the other day, but have had no luck.

  2. None of Girault's privately published works are available online as far as I can tell. My earlier Girault post has the reference for the Gordh et al. (1979) reprinting which is where I found them.

  3. Hmm.

    As I understand it, since Girault died in 1941, all his Australian-published works became public domain in 1991. couldn't one just type them up from the Gordh et al. book and post them online?


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