188 pages, 36 colour & b/w photos and illustrations
This biography is the first on George Caley to take a balanced approach to the life and work of a man who made a major contribution to 19th century scientific studies.
Dr Webb takes the reader from Caley’s humble beginnings in a stable in Yorkshire to the settlement of Parramatta in New South Wales in 1800. It traces his journey through the colony, his encounters with Governor King, Governor Bligh and Reverend Samuel Marsden. His studies of the Australian flora and fauna are dealt with in detail.
Research in London and Manchester as well as the Herbaria of a number of countries around the world has enabled the author to give the reader details of Caley’s early life and events after his return from New South Wales in 1810. Included are details of the fate of Caley’s extensive collections and the facts about those unwise decisions which led him to stagnate first in Manchester and then in the island of St Vincent.
Caley deserves a place in history superior to the one he has been given as Joseph Banks’s eccentric collector. Significantly, this biography looks at a number of possible reasons for Caley’s failure to achieve his potential and gain a place in history more worthy of his basic contribution. The truth needs to be told, not just to set the record straight about Caley the man, but also because he epitomizes the nature, proceedings and characteristics of 19th century natural history.
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