The Naturalist in Britain
A Social History
David Elliston Allen

With a new preface by the author


At once a major resource for historians of science and an excellent introduction to natural history for the general reader, David Allen's The Naturalist in Britain established a precedent for investigating natural history as a social phenomenon. Here the author traces the evolution of natural history from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries, from the "herbalizings" of apprentice apothecaries to the establishment of national reserves and international societies to the emergence of natural history as an organized discipline. Along the way he describes the role of scientific ideas, popular fashion, religious motivations, literary influences, the increase of leisure time and disposable income, and the tendency of like-minded persons to form clubs. His comprehensive and entertaining discussion creates a vibrant portrait of a scientific movement inextricably woven into a particular culture.

David Elliston Allen is coordinator of the History of Medicine Program of The Wellcome Trust. He is also Honorary Lecturer in the History of the Life Sciences, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, and teaches at the University College, London.