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1810 and All That: Robert Brown and nineteenth-century biology

1810 and All That: Robert Brown and nineteenth-century biology

Prof. David Mabberley, Past President of SHNH – The Society for Natural History, will be speaking at the Linnean Society of London on the life of the Scottish botanist Robert Brown (1773-1858), ‘Jupiter Botanicus’, ‘Facile Botanicorum Princeps’.

Brown’s life spanned the period from the Georgian approach to science under Sir Joseph Banks to the Victorian professionalization of the biological sciences.  His own work, which had major effects on the discussion of the ‘vital force’ and modern understanding of plant fertilization and embryology, was built on his grappling with the ‘natural system’ of botany in the face of the British establishment.  After the formative voyage circumnavigating Australia on Flinder’s Investigator (1801-5), he was nested in the hub of Linnaean worship and served J. E. Smith in the Linnean Society, yet broke the grip of the Linnaean system in Britain and beyond.  Travelling widely in Europe, he saw his reputation grow, yet national disputes in Britain diminshed him and with time his greatest protagonists were to deny his greatness in their chauvinistic efforts to eclipse his importance in the advance of science.

For more on Robert Brown click here.

17th of February 2011, 6:00 PM Linnean Society of London

Tea will be served in the Library of the Linnean Society from 5.30pm and the lecture will be followed by a wine reception.  This meeting is free and open to all; registration is not necessary.

Prof. David Mabberley

Professor Mabberley joined Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in March 2008 from his role as Director at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in Seattle, USA. He has had a distinguished botanical career in academia and is recognised as an eminent botanist, historian and botanical art enthusiast.

Professor Mabberley is the author of Mabberley’s Plant Book which gives an overview of the world’s flora and is currently in its third edition (awarded Engler Medal 2009). He has written 15 other books, including the definitive biography of Robert Brown and books on botanical artists such as Ferdinand Bauer, Arthur Harry Church and Geraldine King Tam. He is widely published in scientific literature and received the Linnean Gold Medal for Botany in 2006.

The University of Washington Botanic Gardens were established in 2005 under his management. The Gardens include the Washington Park Arboretum, the Union Bay Gardens, the Center for Urban Horticulture, the Elisabeth C. Miller Library, the Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium, and the Union Bay Natural Area.

Professor Mabberley is also Visiting Professor, University of Oxford, Extraordinary Professor at the Nationaal Herbarium Nederland in Leiden, The Netherlands, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. He led Greening Australia NSW, a revegetation non-governmental organisation, as Chief Executive Officer. Professor Mabberley has been President of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy since 2005.