176 pages, 10 b/w Illus
When imperial explorer James Cook returned from his first voyage to Australia, the scandal writers mercilessly satirised the amorous exploits of his botanist, Joseph Banks.
But Enlightenment botany was fraught with sexual symbolism. In Sweden and Britain, both imperial powers, Banks and Carl Linneaus ruled over their own small scientific empires, promoting botanical exploration to justify exploiting territories, peoples and natural resources. Regarding native peoples with disdain, these two scientific emperors portrayed the Arctic North and the Pacific Ocean as uncorrupted Edens, free from the shackles of Western sexual mores.
Patricia Fara reveals how, barely concealed under Banks' and Linneaus' camouflage of noble Enlightenment, were the altogether more seedy drives to conquer, subdue and deflower - in the name of the British Imperial State.
"Enticing... with a sharp eye for 18th-century mores, this is an engrossing exploration of the growth of the British Empire."
- Good Book Guide
- Marina Warner
"An entertaining account of the appliance of science to the needs of empire"
- Financial Times
"The book's lively prose combines historical detail with humorous anecdotes."
- Geographical Magazine
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Patricia Fara is a Fellow of Clare College at the University of Cambridge, where she teaches history of science. Previous books include "Newton: The Making of Genius" (Macmillan, 2001) and "An Entertainment for Angels" (Icon, 2001).