Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) is perhaps the greatest of the lauded Directors of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and 2017 marks both the bicentenary of his birth and 170 years since his trip to India where he sought botanical treasures in the Himalayas.
This facsimile edition of Hooker's The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya has been reproduced from an original held in the Library, Art & Archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Its publication in three volumes between 1849 and 1851 was an unparalleled commercial success for Hooker. The lavish illustrations produced by Walter Hood Fitch which accompanied the rhododendron descriptions were, and still are, considered to be some of the finest examples of botanical illustration ever produced. The book introduced to the Victorian public new species of rhododendrons that were to become hugely popular and also to play a role in the evolution of British horticultural style and landscape design.
All three parts of the book are brought together in this facsimile, with all 30 plates beautifully reproduced alongside Hooker's original descriptions. A new introductory chapter by Virginia Mills and Cam Sharp Jones from Kew's Joseph Hooker Correspondence Project describes Hooker's time in India and the reception of the original publication in 1849. And Ed Ikin, Head of Wakehurst Landscape and Horticulture, describes the impact Hooker had on British gardening and the inspiration he provided for a whole new approach to horticulture.
Joseph Hooker (1817-1911) was one of the creators of the modern scientist – medical graduate, botanist, plant collector and adventurer– who circled the globe, discovering, describing, naming or introducing over 12,000 plants that have changed the face of our gardens and landscape. He was appointed Assistant Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 1855 and became Director in 1865.
Walter Hood Fitch (1817-1892) was one of the most talented botanical artists of the 19th century. His name is attached to almost every illustrated botanical or horticultural publication of significance published in Britain from the 1830s until the 1880s.
Virginia Mills and Cam Sharp Jones work in the Joseph Hooker Correspondence Project at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Ed Ikin is Head of Landscape and Horticulture at Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex.