Today we look at Sir William Jardine’s hugely ambitious natural history venture, The Naturalist’s Library, published in 1843.
Jardine’s aim was to make natural history available to all levels of Victorian society and he achieved this by editing and issuing 40 volumes of The Naturalist’s Library. The series was divided into four main sections: 7 volumes on Entomology (insects); 6 volumes on Ichthyology (fishes); 14 volumes on Ornithology (birds); and 13 volumes on Mammals. Each volume features exquisite illustrations by, amongst others, Edward Lear. Once printed, these were then hand-coloured by a team of 20 – 30 women, with the books selling initially for 6 shillings. The GSA Library has an almost complete set, with just 5 of the 40 volumes missing.