by Andrea Hart, Ann Datta, David Williams, Hans Walter Lack, Judith Magee, Sandra Knapp, Simon Werrett
Publication Date: September 1, 2019
Publisher: Natural History Museum
Almost a year this book took me to read. I just checked my start date, and if I’d known I was so close, I’d probably have put off finishing it just for the nice, round number. Then again, probably not: the passive guilt of this book sitting on my ‘reading’ pile was wearing me down.
None of that is meant to be a condemnation of the book, so much as a result of the nature of the book itself. Nature’s Explorers is a collection of essays written by a selection of contributors who all either work for the Museum of Natural History, or are closely associated with it. Each essay covers one of history’s great natural explorers and their contribution to science and the arts.
All of the expected players are included: Darwin, Humboldt, Hook, Gould, Audubon, Banks, etc. but there are quite a few lesser known naturalists and explorers too. Two women get essays, including Margaret Elizabeth Fountaine, the late-1800’s lepidopterist who inspired Deanna Raybourne’s character, Veronica Speedwell, in her latest historical mystery series.
As always in a collection of essays written by a variety of people, some are better than others. All are detailed snapshots of the subject’s life and accomplishments, encapsulated in 3-5 pages and surrounded by gorgeous, richly coloured illustrations and reproductions of their work.
A gorgeous book worth owning, but not one to be rushed through.