by Deirdre Dare; Melissa Hardie; Clifford Evans Book : Biography
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The School of Nature: passionate pursuits   (2009-08-05)
Those interested in social and scientific networking, aside from botanical pursuits, will find this a fascinating read. Exhaustively researched, here the reader approaches the human subject (Charles Alexander Johns 1811-1874) from all possible angles - his travels, his family and acquaintances, his studies, his reading diary as well as one personal diary of youthful years, and his complete bibliography. The appendices reveal wide perspectives on the Victorian gentlemen's world of the West Country (Cornwall, Devon, Hampshire), London, Dublin, together with Johns' own views on the natural world around him, wherever he goes (Norfolk, Scotland, Ireland, Paris). His circle includes the Poet of Dartmoor- NT Carrington, Derwent Coleridge, Charles Kingsley, William Hooker, and many, many more. Johns himself was a clergyman, a teacher, a naturalist, and a tour guide. His masterpiece, Flowers of the Field, and his rambling guide A Week at the Lizard are given special notice, and there is a fine essay by Clifford Evans about the botanical illustrator, Emily Stackhouse, who has never received the credit she well deserved for her extensive work on his books.
Much about this book is attractive, including the illustrations chosen, and the production. It is beautiful to hold, and a pleasure to read - at least twice-over, to glean the many treasures in its pages. I had the pleasure of listening to one of the co-authors give a resume of the book not a fortnight ago at London's historic Chelsea Physic Garden in the Darwin summer series; it was a treat, just like the book.
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