Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Ridley, Henry Nicholas (England 1855-1956)
economic botany, phytogeography


Ridley had been working at the British Museum when he was asked to take part in an expedition to Brazil; the experience he gained there led to his being chosen for the directorship of the botanical gardens at Singapore. He stayed in this position for more than twenty years, taking advantage of the post to familiarize himself with the botany of the surrounding regions. On retiring from the directorship he continued his natural history studies, living on for another forty-five years. Ridley is most remembered these days for three things: his monumental five-volume Flora of the Malay Peninsula, his key role in establishing rubber as a plantation crop in Malaya, and his interest in the agents of plant dispersal, study of which led to the publication of his important book The Dispersal of Plants Throughout the World in 1930.

Life Chronology

--born in West Harling Hall, Norfolk, England, on 10 December 1855.
--1878: obtains second class degree in natural science, Exeter College, Oxford
--1880: receives the Burdett-Coutts scholarship in geology
--1880: joins the botanical department of the British Museum
--1887: accompanies Royal Society expedition to Brazil
--1888-1911: director of the botanical gardens, Singapore
--1889-1911: secretary and editor of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Straits Branch
--1890: publishes "The Natural History of the Island of Fernando de Noronha" in the Journal of the Linnean Society
--1890-1891: visits Christmas and Keeling Islands
--1897: visits Borneo and Sumatra
--1903-1916: botanical trips to Sarawak, Java, Burma, Jamaica, India and Egypt
--1907: elected a fellow of the Royal Society of London
--1912: publishes his Spices
--1914: awarded the gold medal of the Rubber Planters' Association
--1922-1925: publishes his Flora of the Malay Peninsula, in five volumes
--1928: receives the Frank N. Meyer medal for foreign plant introduction
--1930: publishes his The Dispersal of Plants Throughout the World
--1950: receives the gold medal of the Linnean Society
--dies at Kew, England, on 24 October 1956.

For Additional Information, See:

--Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 3 (1957).
--Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 46 (2004).
--Nature, Vol. 176(4493) (1955): 1092-1093.
--Taxonomic Literature, Vol. 4 (1983).
--Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London, Vol. 169 (1958): 35-38.
--Taxon, Vol. 6(1) (1957): 1-6.

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Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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