The Great Naturalists

The Great Naturalists

In Association with the Natural History Museum, London
  1. Edited by Robert Huxley
  • ISBN 9780500251393
  • 24.40 x 18.40 cm
  • Hardback
  • 304pp
  • With 198 illustrations
  • First published 2007
‘An exceptionally beautiful book’ – The Sunday Telegraph
‘A cabinet of delights and visual splendour … history of thought at its accessible best’– The FinancialTimes

The great naturalists described, experimented, collected and gave us the means to order and understand the natural world – to exploit it, but also to conserve it and ensure its future survival.

The stories of nearly 40 of these great pioneers, from all over Europe and America, take us from Classical times to the end of the 19th century, when natural history changed from an amateur pursuit to the specialized profession we know today.

Here are the lives of famous figures, such as Aristotle, Carl Linnaeus, Joseph Banks and Georges Cuvier, who established the concept of extinction. Intrepid naturalists such as Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Darwin changed the course of science with their daring travels and groundbreaking theories which challenged the accepted ideas and beliefs of their day.

Others, less well known, are now given their rightful place –
Ulisse Aldrovandi, the first director of a natural history museum; Antony van Leeuwenhoek, who discovered bacteria with microscopes he made himself; Nicolaus Steno, who opened the door to the Earth’s geological past; and Mary Anning, ‘the princess of palaeontology’, who had an amazing talent for finding fossils.

The book is illustrated with breathtakingly beautiful and precise paintings and drawings of birds, animals, fossils, fish, shells and geology, the majority selected from the unparalleled picture archives and collections of the Natural History Museum, London.

Robert Huxley is Head of Collections in the Botany Department of the Natural History Museum, London. He is a board member of the North America-based Natural Sciences Collections Alliance and past President of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections.

See some of Thames & Hudson's books on Darwin and evolution.