242 pages, 4 plates with 8 colour photos and colour illustrations; & 89 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
The Birds of America (London, 1827-38) is the largest bird book ever published. Audubon went to England in order to find a printer capable of printing the huge plates, 39" high and 29" wide, showing the birds life-size. The illustrations were printed by Robert Havell in London. The most recent sale of The Birds of America realised £6.8 million (+ commission) when sold in London in 2010.
Audubon had to find subscribers to his book himself and met aristocrats (25 of whom subscribed), leading industrialists, merchants, traders and professional men in the major towns that he visited. These members of the rising middle classes were influential, cultured men who were also philanthropists. They gave Audubon generous hospitality and assistance. The lives and careers of each of the men who subscribed to The Birds of America and those who befriended him, have been recorded here. Many of them are also now famous.
Audubon's English wife Lucy Green Bakewell, had a huge influence on him and joined him in England for some of the years he lived here. New information about her family (her father emigrated to America in 1798) has been discovered.
Audubon's story is an epic, for which he is admired and widely known. What has not been explained is the English social and political background, or the story of the lives of the Englishmen who assisted Audubon. He was honoured and respected by them. For the first time, their part in his story has been told. This is a major contribution to the Audubon archive.
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