John Gaudet

papyrus umbelsA Fulbright Scholar to both India and Malaya, John Gaudet is a writer and practicing ecologist. His early research on the ancient aquatic plant, papyrus, funded in part by the National Geographic Society, took him to Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, and many other places in Africa where papyrus grows. His work has been discussed in Nature, and by Peter Moore on the BBC show Science Now, and in an article by Alan Cowell in the New York Times.

Known as Bwana Papyrus, he came by his name honestly in Africa while working in the swamps along the Nile River. He is a trained ecologist with a Ph.D. from University of California at Berkeley and is the author of many scientific papers on the ecology and development of papyrus swamps.    His writing has appeared in the John Gaudet - head shotWashington Post, local magazines, and online.

His book Papyrus -The Plant That Changed the World, which will be published by Pegasus in June, tells the story of the most vital Papyrus - thumbnailhuman/plant relationship in history. The plant, papyrus, evokes the mysteries of the ancient world while holding the key to the world’s wetlands and atmospheric stability —and it needs our help.  Most people think that papyrus, the wonder plant of yesteryear, disappeared into the sands of ancient Egypt. It didn’t. Papyrus is alive and well and today thrives in central, south and eastern parts of Africa where it is a vigorous 15 foot plant with a prodigious growth rate. A picture that’s quite foreign to modern Egyptians, as well as people living outside of Africa, and it is an interesting story, one that is stranger than fiction. It begins in the past when papyrus helped shape the course of history and modern civilization. It continues into modern times and the role that papyrus has today in the future of Africa.

“This fascinating and beautifully written book is an absolute eye opener into the extraordinary world of papyrus. John Gaudet has a remarkable story to tell, and he tells it extremely well.” –Alexander McCall Smith, bestselling author of the Botswana series, No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, and Author of the Year, Great Britain

“Not only does The Plant That Changed the World tell you everything about papyrus, it is a great read. The section on how to build a papyrus boat is hard to put down! The explanation of just how crucial papyrus was to ancient Egypt’s development is masterfully and convincingly told. I love the illustrations. They explained tomb painting I have been looking at for 40 years in ways I never imagined.” – Bob Brier, Egyptologist known as “Mr. Mummy,” author, TV host, Great Courses “The History of Ancient Egypt,” Senior Research Fellow at Long Island University

“A fascinating account of the plant that provided the world with paper for the first four thousand years of its history.  Lively and well written.” – Jean-Daniel Stanley, Senior Scientist Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Learn more about John Gaudet and his work at his website. You can also follow him on Twitter where he goes by the handle @BwanaPapyrus.

Don’t miss his book trailer on Youtube!

View all authors