Birds, bees and blooms – a selection of natural history books from Special Collections

Fleshy-flowered thibaudia (plate 5450) from Curtis's Botanical Magazine

Fleshy-flowered thibaudia (plate 5450) from Curtis's Botanical Magazine

The Birds, bees and blooms web exhibition, featuring images from some of the wonderful natural history books housed in the University of Glasgow Library’s Special Collections, was created in 2007. It has proven so popular over the years that we have now updated and republished it. Included are groundbreaking scientific texts, as well as many beautifully illustrated volumes, charting advances in graphic art from manuscript illumination through to woodcutting, engraving and etching. 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
  • the first edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, the seminal work which introduced the controversial theory of natural selection to the Victorians
  • Micrographia by Robert Hooke, a 17th-century text on microscopy renowned for its detailed illustrations
  • Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora, one of the greatest 18th-century flower books
  • A Monograph of the Testudinata with outstanding lithographs of tortoises, 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


Categories: Library, Special Collections

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