Rampe Brancaccio 49, Naples - Italy

Legacy JZY

JZ, my life and my memory – a Story Telling by Kate Moore (UK)

Kate Moore is the third and only living child of Prof J. Z. Young.  Born in 1959 she went to Naples with him and her mother Raye every summer of her childhood. In her teens she and Raye both helped with the experiments at Stazione Zoologica.  She is now a retired teacher and runs an artists studio project – the Silk Mill in Somerset UK with her husband Damon. She has 3 adult sons, two of whom were born before JZ died and the third 5 weeks afterwards.  The science gene has so far skipped two generations!

Would that I could conjure him here! 

He would be very happy that you were thus gathered and excited to hear about the work; so much his priority at all times. I have been digging through a mass of pictures going back to the earliest trips to Naples. I have assembled a small selection for you. 

I so often wonder about how he would have viewed this or that development in our knowledge.     

I think this must have been in the 1980s in the basement of the Stazione. A classic sight.

Early 1930s

Going back a bit…The Young Family at Rodway Hill in Bristol.
The youngest Michael was born in 1916 (same year as Raye) so that would put this in the early 1930s and JZ aged 23-24.


Here is a piece from notes made in 1926 of the pond survey which JZ was doing at Rodway Hill. 
He found Angel fish which were rare as they only survived in ponds that dried up in summer (I think!).

A matter of style

It was something of a mystery how someone whose handwriting
(no doubt familiar to many of you) was like this:

This writing was from his diary when he first came to Naples in 1928. The last line is..”Now for Neapel!

…Could also do this:

19th September 1928

The entry on the day after his arrival (19th Sept 1928) reads…

”Have fallen in love with Naples.  I cannot attempt to describe her.  The sea is blue – that is but a detail. The houses climb with glorious irregularity to the top of the hill.  Vesuvius smokes away – now white, now pink now covered altogether by its cap.  There have been terrific thunder storms for the lasts 24 hours but in between the sun shines as if it would never stop.  What really pleases me is the atmosphere of living that pervades the place.  It is no mere existence from day to day and yet it entirely lacks events.  The Neapolitans seem to realize that their first business is to live.”

JZ in Naples about 1928

Is there still a Stazione Zologica rowing boat?


Piazza Vittoria 1952


In I947 an artist arrived to document the experience in pictures.
The one in the background on the right is in our sitting room as I type.

Raye painted more in Naples than anywhere else.




Giving the second series of Reith Lectures in 1950.


Marechiaro about 1950.


J Z went to Hong Kong in 1959 just after I was born.

Raye stayed behind to look after me and I think she was a bit jealous of the fun he had there!


Born in June 1959 I did not go to Naples that summer but I went every summer of my childhood that followed until I was 18.
UK summers are still a novelty to me.

It was when I was about 7 or 8 that I remember beginning to understand who my father was to other people and why I saw less of him than some children saw of their dads.  He took me to school every morning until Raye learned to drive aged 53. 


This is a Martin Wells scene that I think probably pre-dates my arrival. The cloth tucked into JZ’s string belt is so perfect and note the characters in the room beyond!


August 1964, JZ did not indulge in such frivolities!


I can still smell the fish and see those red tiles on the floor.

Health and safety would be the ones having kittens now! And who took this photo and how?

There was a dynasty of wild cats that I and others got very fond of.  They lived around the tanks and we used to sneak fish heads and sometimes whole fish to them.  Every year when we came back there was great excitement to see if the matriarch known as Muny had made it through another winter.  She must have given birth to hundreds of kittens in her time!


Once I was in my teens I was enlisted into the work and very much enjoyed helping with the training.  I prided myself on being the chief anaesthetist; mixing urethane in plastic pots, catching the octopus, setting it up on a cork on the wax filled tray with a dish cloth covering all but the part needed to be visible for the operation, then bringing it round afterwards by squirting water under its mantle. 

I had a good tutor.


We still have one of the stop watches.

As was swimming, here at Venner’s garden in Posilipo…


…and here at Isolotto di San Martino; time to think… as he did at home in England on his absolutely regular (15 mile) Sunday walks come snow, rain birthdays or shine.


Stop taking photos and let me get on…

More distractions… Receiving an Honorary Degree from Duke University May 1978.

I don’t now when either of these was taken but JZ looks very happy in both pictures.


At the Bersaglieria with Gioacchino and Luca, in the 80s.


At the last meeting, John & Raye were always keen dancers. They “won” the “best dancers in Ischia” competition once!


In 1991 JZ came to Naples to receive the Honorary citizenship. He was hugely touched to be given this by the city that he “seem to realize that their first business is to live.”

The head waiter at the Bersagleria had been there as a teenager when JZ first went to Naples. In the end they forgave us for the one trip we ever made to the Zi Theresa next door!


The very last trip that JZ made to Naples was in 1994 to collect the Biennale award in the Castel del Ovo. He was far from well and I was lucky enough to come with them to help. I had begun to wonder whether Naples had all been a dream but there she was as beautiful and welcoming as ever.

Octopus as inspiration:

Raye made this silver bowl for Magdalen College.


Damon has written a whole book of 33 poems called The Guidebook to Naples with titles such as The Same Turtle, John’s postcards, Death and The Octopus, JZ amongst the Materialists.

The poems were started in 2006 when we came to stay in the flat of Antoinetta (Maiti) Dohrn just after she died.

Our first trip was on the ferry round the coast to see Gioacchino de Vivo in Vico Equenze. 

We went to see the hotel where you now are and the next photo was taken…    




Our next trip was in 2010 when Damon finished the poems and we came to stay at the flat of Luca de Forgelinis in via Rione Sirignano, where Raye & John stayed on their last few trips to Naples.

This time we came to the wedding of Dr. Fabio de Sio whose PhD was on Stazione Zoologica and who is now researching a book about the memory work carried out there.

These trips have given JZ’s grandsons  a real love of this part of the world  and some insight into the lives of  their grandparents here.                      

JZ would have been very happy.    


John Zachary Young

18th March 1907- 4th July 1997

A talk about Prof J. Z. Young by his daughter Kate