Joseph Banks: A Life

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Dec 8, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 328 pages
2 Reviews
Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), was a naturalist, explorer, president for more than forty years of the Royal Society, Britain's oldest scientific institution, and one of Australia's founding fathers. He first rose to fame when, as a young botanist, he accompanied Captain Cook on his epic circumnavigation that resulted in the discovery of Australia. He was a central figure in a generation that transformed an insular monarchy into a modern industrial powerhouse. Yet a complete picture of Banks's long life has never emerged from the vast archive left at his death. The young Banks sailed on expeditions to North America and Iceland as well as the Pacific; he was also instrumental in establishing Kew Gardens as one of the world's greatest botanical centers. An indefatigable correspondent, he had a wide circle of friends and associates, including Cuvier, Watt, Samuel Johnson, and Edward Gibbon. Patrick O'Brian's masterful biography, which makes full use of Banks's letters and journals (some hitherto unknown), brings from the shadows a man of enduring importance. Banks emerges as a cheerful, forthright, and hospitable man whose true genius lay in promoting the enthusiasms of others. His legacy survives not only in his magnificent Florilegium, the record of his botanical studies in the South Seas, but in the development of the Australian continent and the tenor and tradition of subsequent scientific enterprise. Joseph Banks: A Life, gracefully written by one of England's prose masters, provides a fascinating overview of a full and important life.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Bowerbirds-Library - LibraryThing

Patrick O'Brien has a certain idiosyncratic manner in writing his biography of Joseph Banks and the book is all the more enjoyable and reading for this. The early years of Bank's life (travels with ... Read full review

JOSEPH BANKS: A Life

User Review  - Kirkus

A finely wrought and fascinating biography from O'Brian, acclaimed author of historical naval adventures (The Truelove, 1992, etc.), who now turns his considerable storytelling talents to the life of ... Read full review

Contents

Preface
9
Origins Education Botany
13
Newfoundland and Labrador
39
The Royal Society Solander the Endeavour Voyage
59
TAHITI AND THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
90
NEW ZEALAND BOTANY BAY THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
104
Home Again Resolution Iceland
142
The Great Florilegium Omai Soho Square
168
HMS Sheep Plant Collectors Bligh and Bounty Revolution in France
219
War New South Walesthe Privy Council
243
Trouble in Sydney and Iceland Declining Healththe End
270
His Will and some Letters
305
Notes
314
Bibliography
318
Index
322
Copyright

President of the Royal Society Marriage the King and Kew Botany Bay
193

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1997)

Patrick O'Brian is the author of twenty volumes in the highly respected Aubrey/Maturin series of novels.

Bibliographic information