Naturalists in Paradise

Naturalists in Paradise

Wallace, Bates and Spruce in the Amazon

  1. John Hemming
  • ISBN 9780500252109
  • 23.50 x 17.20 cm
  • Hardback
  • 368pp
  • 76 Illustrations, 20 in colour
  • First published 2015

A brilliantly told account of the travels and travails of three of the nineteenth century’s outstanding scientists

‘Hemming’s fascination [with the Amazon] shines out of every page … a compelling story … Hemming tells the story of this extraordinary trio without hype, wisely content to let the facts and their own reflections speak largely for themselves’ – Daily Mail
‘A splendid, indeed brilliant book … the first comprehensive account of those three historic figures’ – Wade Davis, winner of the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize
‘Clear and compelling … Hemming tells a hardly believable story with great clarity and sympathy’– Financial Times
‘Hemming turns the technical nightmare of combined biographies into a seamless daydream … his book is itself a little piece of intellectual paradise’– The Oldie
'This beautifully crafted book is not only a pleasure to handle but also a valuable reference work as it is complemented by a substantial bibliography and detailed cross-references'– Archives of Natural History

Naturalists in Paradise

Alfred Russel Wallace, Henry Walter Bates and Richard Spruce were English naturalists who went to Amazonia 150 years ago.

This book is the first to combine the young men’s experiences of the Amazon, drawing heavily on their own letters and books. All three explored an unknown river and had many thrilling adventures: violent attacks of malaria, fearful rapids, murder attempts, encounters with indigenous peoples, shipwrecks, and many other hardships.

In addition to their huge contributions to knowledge of the Amazonian environment, each is particularly famous for one discovery. Wallace is acknowledged as a co-discoverer, along with Charles Darwin, of the theory of evolution. Bates discovered protective mimicry among insects, a phenomenon named after him. Spruce transported the quinine-bearing Cinchona tree to India, where it saved countless lives from malaria.

John Hemming is a world authority on the Amazon. Naturalists in Paradise is a masterwork of loving and informed storytelling.

John Hemming was Director of the Royal Geographical Society for over twenty years. Among his many other books are Tree of Rivers and Monuments of the Incas, both published by Thames & Hudson.

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