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In 1813, author, illustrator, printmaker and natural historian, John William Lewin created the first illustrated book ever published in Australia – Birds of New South Wales. Featuring more than 150 exquisite artworks, Neville takes a fascinating look at Lewin's life and work, his place in colonial Australian society and the natural history craze that swept the world at that time. When Lewin arrived in New South Wales in 1800, the fledgling colony was by no means a favoured destination for artistic, ambitious Englishmen. Yet to Lewin, Australia was simply 'the finest country in the world', and it offered him the respectability and social standing he could never have found in England. Written by Richard Neville, Mitchell Librarian at the State Library of New South Wales, this book is a visually stunning testament to Lewin's artistic legacy.
John William Lewin is one of Australia's most imaginative and engaging – but least known – colonial artists. His images of Australia's flora and fauna are surprisingly modern. He locates his subjects in their actual environment, which was then an innovation to be developed by later naturalists like John James Audubon and John Gould. Lewin's story also shows us that early colonial times were so much more than the popular narrative of brutality and isolation.