Birds, Bees and Blooms
Presented here is a selection of some of the wonderful natural history books now in the care of University of Glasgow Library's Special Collections. As well as often being groundbreaking scientific texts, many of these books are beautifully illustrated, charting advances in graphic art from manuscript illumination through to woodcutting, engraving and etching. Acclaimed as outstanding works of art today, these labours of love were often costly to produce: behind many of them are stories of struggles to find specimens and financial ruin brought on by high production costs. Collected over the centuries and now preserved for posterity, highlights include:

* a volume of John James Audubon's mammoth Birds of America, probably one of the most famous bird books ever produced and renowned for its huge format, dictated by Audubon's determination to depict life size all the known species of birds in North America
* a copy of the first edition of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, the seminal work in which the controversial theory of natural selection was introduced to the Victorians
* Micrographia by Robert Hooke, a seventeenth century text on microscopy renowned for its detailed illustrations
* Robert Thornton's Temple of Flora, one of the greatest eighteenth century flower books
* A Monograph of the Testudinata with outstanding lithographs of torotoises, terrapins and turtles by James de Carle Sowerby and Edward Lear
* a French medieval manuscript on hunting and the chase with marginal illustrations of hawks

This virtual exhibition was originally devised to accompany a display organized for delegates attending the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting (Glasgow: September 10-12 2007).
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