Mark Catesby’s Natural History:
An Introduction

IMAGINE if you could open a window and look 300 years back into the wildlife of southeastern North America. You might be surprised to see what has changed and what remains the same. The view might also inspire you to examine more carefully the plants, animals, and landscape around you with the realization that they may not always exist or look the way they do now.

 

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This short “picture book” of works by English naturalist Mark Catesby (1683–1749) provides a window, not only into the flora and fauna of the early eighteenth century, but into the fascinating mind of an observer who meticulously recorded what he saw long before the advent and advantages of a modern-day camera.

Linda Lear, author of the definitive biographies of ecologist Rachel Carson and naturalist Beatrix Potter, describes Mark Catesby’s Natural History: An Introduction as “a beautifully illustrated book that introduces Catesby’s genius to anyone curious about the natural world. It is a splendid introduction for students and for all those who still love to explore.”

This book provides a “sneak peek” into Catesby and the natural world he saw in the eighteenth-century southeastern United States. With its large images and concise text, it makes for enjoyable reading while marveling at Catesby’s attention to detail in each of his images.