Joseph James Fletcher was an Australian biologist, winner of the 1921 Clarke Medal. Fletcher was born at Auckland, New Zealand the son of the Rev Joseph Horner Fletcher, a Methodist clergyman, and his wife Kate, née Green. The family arrived in Australia early in 1861, and, after a term of four years in Queensland, Rev. Fletcher went to Sydney to become principal of Newington College, from 1865 to 1887. J. J. Fletcher completed his schooling at Newington and then went to the University of Sydney and graduating B.A. in 1870 and M.A. in 1876. In between these years he was a master at Wesley College, Melbourne, under Professor M. H. Irving. As no science degree was offered in Australia, in 1876 resigned from Wesley and went to London, initially studying at the Royal School of Mines and University College, University of London where he studied biology and took his B.Sc. degree there in 1879. He studied for a time at Cambridge and in 1881 published his first paper. In 1881 Fletcher decided to return to Australia, and, before leaving England, prepared a Catalogue of Papers and Works relating to the Mammalian orders, Marsupialla and Monotremata, which was published in Sydney soon after his arrival. There were no openings for young scientists in Sydney at this period, so Fletcher joined the staff of Newington College where his father was still principal. He spent four years at the school and was a successful teacher, encouraging his pupils to find out things for themselves instead of merely trying to remember what their teacher had told them. During this period he joined the Linnean Society of New South Wales, met Sir William Macleay, and in 1885 was given the position of director and librarian of the society. This title was afterwards changed to secretary. He began his duties on 1 January 1886 and for over 33 years devoted his life to the service of the society. During this period he edited 33 volumes of Proceedings with the greatest care.