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In this volume, first published in 1976, Dr Ainsworth gives a straightforward account of the main views held about fungi for the past three millennia and the development of the study of fungi as a branch of science for the last 250 years. The existing literature is widely scattered and much of it suffers from difficulty of access. In this volume there is documented an outline of the development of the main areas of mycology, with emphasis on the solution of the major problems that have confronted students of fungi and novel discoveries which have given new insights.
A number of important themes form the basis of the account, each one being traced from early times to the twentieth century. The themes are arranged in the chronology of their appearance in mycological studies. Most chapters are thus self-contained. Whilst an elementary knowledge of mycology is assumed, technicalities have been kept to a minimum so that not only mycologists but other biologists and historians of science can understand the history of the development of knowledge of an important group of organisms.