Tag Archives: natural history

The Pliny of Switzerland

I vaguely knew of Conrad Gessner (often spelled Gesner) as a botanist, but it wasn’t until I was tracing the taxonomy of the bluetit a few days ago that I became aware of his wide-ranging work across the fields of … Continue reading

Posted in Art, Bibliography, Biography, Botany, History, Natural history, Printing and Publishing | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Blackbird

Has there ever been a spring/summer like this for blackbird song? (Except, obviously, the year in which, in late June, Edward Thomas’s train stopped unexpectedly at Adlestrop?) I’m especially fortunate in that I have two competing to outdo each other … Continue reading

Posted in Art, History, Literature, Museums and Galleries, Natural history | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Doomed to Find a Premature Grave

These portentous words appear in the introduction to the 1834 English edition of Letters from India by the French natural historian Victor Jacquemont (1801–32), ‘Travelling Naturalist to the Museum of Natural History, Paris’. If his name is remembered now in … Continue reading

Posted in Bibliography, Botany, Exploration, France, Gardens, Natural history, Printing and Publishing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Shoemaker of Banff

Samuel Smiles, biographer and enthusiast for those who demonstrated the ability to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, was very taken with Thomas Edward, of Banff, Scotland. He name-checked him in Self-Help (1859), as follows:

Posted in Biography, Botany, Natural history | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Halcyon Days

The myth first. Halcyone was the daughter of Aeolus, the god of the winds. She and her husband Ceyx, king of Thessaly (or of Trachis, in some versions), were among the dim bunch (see Niobe, Marsyas, Ixion et al.) who … Continue reading

Posted in Art, Cambridge, Natural history | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Naming of Birds

‘Oh look!’ I remarked, ‘There’s a great tit on the fat balls!’ My Canadian visitor sounded taken aback: ‘That’s not the sort of thing you hear every day!’ On the contrary, you hear it quite a lot in my house … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Natural history | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment