Allan Cunningham is rightly celebrated as the leading botanist in Australia in the first half of the 19th century. He was also an accomplished explorer, and a pioneer physical geographer, plant geographer and ecologist at a time when those sciences were in their infancy. Cunningham was a very enthusiastic correspondent, both in the numbers and (often) length of his letters, and Allan Cunningham: Letters of a Botanist Explorer 1791-1839 brings together over 490 letters, to him, from him, and (between third parties) about him. The correspondence includes communications with the world's leading botanists, several New South Wales Governors, an ambassador, government officials, friends, family, colleagues, missionaries, and the proponents of the South Australian Land Co. and the Australian Agricultural Co. Together for the first time, they provide a new perspective on this humble but talented man, and on his life in Australia, London and Brazil in the early 1800s.
Tony Orchard has had an extensive career as a Botanist at the highest levels: Beginning at the State Herbarium of South Australia (AD) (1972); then Curator at the Cheeseman Herbarium in Auckland, NZ, (AK) (1972-1978); foundation Curator, Tasmanian Herbarium (HO) (1978-1992); Editor/Executive Editor, Flora of Australia (1992-1998), Director (and other positions) at ABRS Flora Section (1998-2003); botanist and Herbarium Registrar, Australian National Herbarium, Canberra, (2003-2005); Compiler, Australian Plant Census (2005-2006); Assistant Manager, Plant Biosecurity, Biosecurity Australia (2006-2009), and Australian Botanical Liaison Officer, ABLO, Kew (2008-2009).
Theresa Orchard is a professional botanist. After training at Aberystwyth University and University College, London, she moved to Australia in 1969, teaching Botany as a Tutor at the University of Adelaide (1970-1972). From 1972-1978 she was a Tutor and Research Assistant in the Botany Department, University of Auckland, NZ, and from 2001 to 2008, was employed at the Australian National Herbarium, entering botanical collection records to the ANSHIR database. In 2008-2009 she accompanied Tony to London where he was ABLO, and together they gathered extensive documentary and specimen data in London, Edinburgh, Paris, Florence and Geneva for the research underpinning their Cunningham publications. Follow up private trips to London in 2011 and 2012 provided further Cunningham data.