What links a Kendal shoemaker, the scientist who discovered the phenomenon known as Brownian Motion and an endangered species of plant growing on the south-west coast of Australia? Which Reverend gentleman naturalist believed in an earth-centred universe, lost his money investing in mines and joined the Royal Navy to escape his creditors? What links the son of the proprietor of the White Lion Inn in Kendal with Chelsea Physic Garden and a small yellow-flowered bush growing around the Great Lakes of North America? Which Quaker botanist and schoolmaster was buried in his own back garden?
The answers to these and other such intriguing questions can be found within the pages of Natural Awakenings. It examines the lives of eleven Lakeland naturalists who were active before 1800 AD and illustrates their contribution to the developing knowledge of the natural history of Lakeland and beyond. They came from all walks of life, including humble shoemakers, physicians and clergymen, including a bishop. The one thing they shared in common was their appreciation of the natural world. Natural Awakenings explores a time when roaming round the countryside collecting plants was still viewed as a nefarious activity linked to the work of the devil. It describes an era when ptarmigan flew on the Lakeland fells, corncrakes were heard in the meadows, and wildcats, pine martens and polecats stalked the valleys.
Ian Hodkinson is Professor Emeritus in the School of Biological & Environmental Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University. His working life was spent as an invertebrate ecologist with much of his later research focussed on the impact of a changing climate on the flora and fauna of Arctic and alpine habitats in Svalbard, Greenland, Norway, and Alaska.