The SHNH site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our privacy policy.


Society for the History of Natural History

Awards, Honours and Medals

The John Thackray Medal

The John Thackray Medal 2009

The 2009 winner of the John Thackray Medal was Dr Charlie Jarvis for his book Order out of Chaos: Linnaean plant names and their types.

This major work from the Linnaean Plant Name Typfication Project is a comprehensive guide to the typifications of the plant names described by Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778). Publication in May 2007 marked the tercentenary of Linnaeus’ birth.

A co-publication between the Linnean Society of London and London’s Natural History Museum, Order out of Chaos brings together for the first time information on the typification of all of Linnaeus’ plant names. Since 1981, hundreds of botanists around the globe have been studying names, specimens and illustrations in order to allow type specimens to be designated so that Linnaeus’ names can be applied clearly and consistently worldwide.

The book provides a comprehensive catalogue listing each Linnaean name (and will include many new typifications) stating

  • place and date of publication
  • type specimen, typifier and place of typification
  • current name and explanatory notes, including reference to relevant literature.

The book also contains detailed accounts both of Linnaeus’ publications and those of other botanists that contributed to his understanding of plants. Significant plant collectors are enumerated, with examples listed of important specimens known in Linnaeus’ and other herbaria.

SHNH Past President Professor David Mabberley, in speaking about the work said: “This is a great synthesis of scholarship and critical evaluation of the work of others. A great achievement.”

Professor Tim Birkhead reported that “the [SHNH awards] committee had no reservations in awarding the Thackray Medal to Charlie Jarvis, whose book Order out of Chaos wonderfully advances our knowledge of the history of natural history, not just in relation to Linneaus but of eighteenth-century botany more generally, and indeed, through its analysis of systems of classification, of the history of science as a whole”.