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

Latest news

Announcing the 2023 SHNH Natural History Book Prize longlist (Thackray Medal)

Announcing the 2023 SHNH Natural History Book Prize longlist (Thackray Medal)

We are delighted to announce the longlist nominations for the SHNH Natural History Book Prize (John Thackray Medal), awarded for the best book published on the history or bibliography of natural history in the preceding two years.

We send our warmest congratulations to all authors.

Roy and Lesley Adkins, When There Were Birds (Little, Brown, 2021)

When There Were Birds is a social history of Britain that charts the complex connections between people and birds, set against a background of changes in the landscape and evolving tastes, beliefs and behaviour




Kathleen Brosnan and James Akerman, Mapping Nature Across the Americas (Chicago University Press, 2020)

Provides the first in-depth and interdisciplinary investigation of the relationship between maps and environmental knowledge in the Americas—including indigenous cartography in Mexico, allegorical presence of palm trees in maps of Argentina, systemic mapping of US forests, and the scientific planting of Canada’s remote lands.


Helen Cowie, Victims of Fashion: Animal Commodities in Victorian Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2021)

In this innovative study, Helen Cowie examines the role of these animal-based commodities in Britain in the long nineteenth century and traces their rise and fall in popularity in response to changing tastes, availability, and ethical concerns



Regine Fabri, Le vasculum ou boîte d’herborisation, Marqueur emblématique du botaniste du XIX siècle, objet désuet devenu vintage [The Vasculum or Herborization Box: How an Iconic Marker of the 19th Century Botanist Became an Obsolete Vintage Object] (Le Jardin botanique de Meise [Meise Botanic Garden], 2021)

Traces the history of the vasculum or botanist’s collecting box which accompanied generations of botanists and plant hunters for more than two centuries from its strange origin, through to its days of glory and finally its obsolescence.


Henrietta McBurney, Illuminating Natural History: The Art and Science of Mark Catesby (Paul Mellon Centre, 2021)

Explores the life and art of the celebrated 18th-century naturalist explorer, artist and author Mark Catesby (1683–1749) and his pioneering work depicting the flora and fauna of North America, in vibrant detail


Nicholas K. Menzies, Ordering the Myriad Things: From Traditional Knowledge to Scientific Botany in China. (University of Washington Press, 2021)

Relates how traditional knowledge of plants in China gave way to scientific botany between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, when plants came to be understood in a hierarchy of taxonomic relationships to other plants and within a broader ecological context



Emily Pawley, Nature of the Future: Agriculture, Science, and Capitalism in the Antebellum North   (Chicago University Press, 2020)

Plumbs the innovative, far-ranging, and sometimes downright strange agricultural schemes of nineteenth-century farms in the northern US and reveals how improvers transformed American landscapes and American ideas of expertise, success, and exploitation from the ground up.



Dominic Selwood, Anatomy of a Nation: A History of British Identity in 50 Documents (Little, Brown  2021)

Explores over 950,000 years of British history by examining 50 documents that tell the story of what makes Britain unique. Some of these documents are well-known. Most are not. Each reveal something important about Britain and its people.




Winner of the SHNH Natural History Book Prize 2022


Read more on the SHNH Natural History Book Prize and on the 2022 winner  Dr Jordam Goodman for his wonderful publication Planting the World: Joseph Banks and his Collectors: An Adventurous History of Botany (Harper Collins, 2021, ISBN 978-0-00-757883-2).