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The Aurelian Legacy - a History of British Butterflies and their Collectors: With contributions by Peter Marren and Basil Harley Hardcover – 1 Jan 2000
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"What can one say about such a beautiful and informative book? It is difficult to express in words what a remarkable publication it is and at such a low price." - W. G. Tremewan, "Entomologist s Gazette" "This information-packed but highly readable account of 300 years of British lepidoptery, practised largely by amateurs, is a must-read for butterfly afficionados and social historians alike." - "Nature" "an extraordinarily readable, accessible and fascinating account of a subculture that has never before been championed in a work for the public. It is a riveting and remarkable book." - Gaden Robinson, "Times Literary Supplement" "This is as splendid a volume as one might hope or wish for ... " - John Fowles, "The Spectator""
What can one say about such a beautiful and informative book? It is difficult to express in words what a remarkable publication it is and at such a low price. - W. G. Tremewan, Entomologist's Gazette This information-packed but highly readable account of 300 years of British lepidoptery, practised largely by amateurs, is a must-read for butterfly afficionados and social historians alike. - Nature an extraordinarily readable, accessible and fascinating account of a subculture that has never before been championed in a work for the public. It is a riveting and remarkable book. - Gaden Robinson, Times Literary Supplement This is as splendid a volume as one might hope or wish for ... - John Fowles, The Spectator
This history of British butterflies is combined with a history of their collectors, without whose activities our knowledge of the identification, occurrence, distribution and variation would be much poorer. Liberally laced with contemporary quotations, and containing brief biographies and photographic portraits of about 100 early lepidopterists and their equipment, the volume presents 200 years of butterfly study, including the work of members of the Aurelian Society, founded in the early-18th century. Appendixes provide lists of the entomological societies, journals and transactions, and the collectors themselves, together with a check list of the British and Irish butterflies.See all Product description
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this work. It is a worthy definitive work on the subject and history of British butterflies.
The bulk of the book is a collection of 101 short biographies of British lepidopterists, commemorating naturalists from over 300 years. The other long chapter, "Some Species of Historical Interest" more or less duplicates the information in the biographies, but told with the emphasis on the discoveries rather than the discoverers.
Taken in whole, this is is an interesting overview
of changing persectives in the study of Nature, and butterflies in particular, through history. It is full of individual stories, from frauds and fakes to new species discoveries.
Other sections of the book deal with collecting and conservation. Salmon is, very unfashionably, supportive of the right of the serious naturalist to collect specimens. This is well argued but I find this a difficult position to sympathise with. The sheer numbers quoted of butterflies collected by the Victorian and Edwardian hunters is depressing, the photos of the massed ranks of Large Blues (p303) and Large Coppers (p283) captured and killed, now extinct in Britain, are horrible.
Of course, it is not necessary to agree with an author totally to appreciate his work. And this is a serious and valuable book. Well illustrated and authoratative.
Rather than the description of the collector's kit (a very off-putting second chapter after a positive, poetry-filled first chapter) I would have preferred more reproductions of pages from the various works quoted in the biographries, but it is churlish to carp too much about this labour of love. The presence of Rothschilds as introducer and ,prominently, in the historical biographies, may lead some readers to suspect patronage leading to undeserved praise, but this is quite clearly not the case.
I would recommend this book to all enthusiasts of Natural History, particulary anyone with an interest in butterflies, however slight. In addition to biographical detail of individual entomologists, it describes the history of many of the butterflies themselves.
I can see myself referring back to this book for many years to come, both for reference and for light reading about golden summer days long distant. I have often suspected that I was born 100 years too late, in these pages there is at least the opportunity to imagine what life was like!
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