White, Gilbert

The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne

  • A very attractive late 19th-century edition of one of the great classics of nature writing, originally published in 1789. The text used here is the version edited by James Edmund Harting, the great Victorian ornithologist and writer. It also includes illustrations of birds and mammals by that master engraver of natural history, Thomas Bewick.

    Author Gilbert White was a parson, gardner, and naturalist who, between 1751 and his death in 1793, kept a detailed journal of his horticultural activities and observations of the natural world. He was also a member of a wide circle of British naturalists and scientists, and his correspondence, together with material from his journal and his investigations into local antiquities, comprises the text of this, his magnum opus.

    White's focus on individual observations - of birds, mammals, insects, soils, plant life cycles, weather patterns, and the effects of husbandry - has appealed to amateur naturalists for generations. "It was precisely White's resistance to generalization, together with his unending flow of rich particularity, that enabled him to fulfill his main aim, that of encouraging his readers to give ‘a more ready attention’ to the flora and fauna of their daily world... it is this focus of White's on the everyday, on what is accessible to the curious observer in any age, that is a principal reason" for the book's enduring popularity. White's work is "open to everyone, for everyone has observed much of what it describes. Writer and reader each share the inheritance of the natural world, and delight in what is given, so that Selborne becomes an expression of universal thanksgiving, treasured by all" (ODNB).

  • ...in the County of Southampton. The Standard Edition by E. T. Bennett. Thoroughly revised, with additional Notes, by James Edmund Harting. Stereotyped Edition. With ten letters not included in any other edition of the work. Illustrated with engravings by Thomas Bewick and Others. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., [early 1890s]. Octavo. original red cloth elaborately blocked in gilt with designs of animals, birds, and insects, black coated endpapers, all edges gilt. Engravings throughout. Prize bookplate. Cloth very slightly rubbed and dulled at the extremities but overall very fresh and attractive, just a little minor toning at the edges of the contents. Excellent condition.

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