Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Swainson, William (England-New Zealand
from Wikipedia.org |William Swainson was a very capable zoologist and illustrator whose career
suffered from his lack of formal training and his propensity for too wholeheartedly
adopting theories of dubious worth. His father had been a fine amateur
zoologist (and a founding member of the Linnean Society of London), and
early on Swainson continued the family avocation while earning a paycheck
as a civil servant. He then carved out a successful career as a very talented
illustrator and lithographer of natural history works and encyclopedias,
though what he really wanted was an academic or museum post. These never
materialized, and eventually he emigrated to New Zealand in the autumn
of his years. Swainson's lack of greater success can be attributed to
a rather too obvious lack of academic polish, and to his adoption of the
peculiar quinary system of classification (which isolated his systematic
efforts from the mainstream of the time, already dominated by the Linnaean
--born in Newington Butts, London, England, on 8 October 1789.
--1808: attached to the army's commissary-general office in the Mediterranean
--1808-1815: visits/resides in Sicily, Italy, Malta, and Greece; makes
natural history collections
--1815: retires from service at half-pay
--1816: made a fellow of the Linnean Society
--1817-1818: makes natural history collections in Brazil
--1820: elected to the Royal Society of London
--1823-1840: involved in various natural history-related publication endeavors
--1834-1841: publishes his Birds of Brazil in parts
--1835: publishes his A
Treatise on the Geography and Classification of Animals
--1835: publishes his On the Natural History and Classification of
--1835: his first wife dies
--1841: emigrates to New Zealand
--1841-1855: involved in property management and natural history-related
--c1851-1853: forestry-related investigations in Tasmania, New South Wales,
--dies at Fern Grove, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, on 7 December 1855.
--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 13 (1976).
--Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 53 (2004).
--Archives of Natural History, Vol. 13 (1986): 275-290.
--Natural History, Vol. 93(10) (1984): 14-23.
Osprey, Vols. 4-6 (1900-1902): 104- (in 12 parts).
--Journal of the History of Biology, Vol. 35(1) (2002): 5-42.
--The Light of Nature: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science
Presented to A. C. Crombie (1985): 83-94.
--From Linnaeus to Darwin: Commentaries on the History of Biology
and Geology (1985): 51-59.
--Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History,
Vol. 8 (1978): 369-379.
Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights
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