Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Disclosing the Past, by Mary Leakey, is a collection of memories, personal anecdotes, and commentary written by a woman some call the most important archaeologist of the twentieth century. Leakey did not keep a personal diary. To write this book, she relied on the help of friends and family members and on a sizable collection of note cards, on which she recorded memories as they came to her. She arranged these cards in chronological order, creating a book that highlights those events that she thought were important or memorable. The book also includes a few black-and-white photographs, mostly from Leakey’s early years.

The first three chapters cover Leakey’s family and childhood. The author includes many interesting stories about her family. Mary’s father was an artist who traveled widely in search of new landscapes to paint. As the family traveled, Mary got to know some rather famous people, including Howard Carter, one of the discoverers of the tomb of Tutankhamen. Because of the constant traveling, Mary had little formal education, and her only friends were grown-ups and her pets. After her father’s death, Mary and her mother settled in England.

As Mary grew older, she became more and more interested in archaeology. Her lack of schooling prevented her from entering a university, but she used her artistic skills, inherited from her father, to illustrate archaeological finds. Her skill eventually attracted the attention of...

(The entire section is 508 words.)