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In 1712, English naturalist Mark Catesby (1683-1749) crossed the Atlantic to Virginia. After a seven-year stay, he returned to England with paintings of plants and animals he had studied. They sufficiently impressed other naturalists that in 1722 several Fellows of the Royal Society sponsored his return to North America. There Catesby cataloged the flora and fauna of the Carolinas and the Bahamas by gathering seeds and specimens, compiling notes, and making watercolor sketches. Going home to England after five years, he began the twenty-year task of writing, etching, and publishing his monumental "The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands."
Mark Catesby was a man of exceptional courage and determination combined with insatiable curiosity and multiple talents. Nevertheless no portrait of him is known. The international contributors to The Curious Mister Catesby review Catesby's biography alongside the historical and scientific significance of his work. Ultimately, this lavishly illustrated volume advances knowledge of Catesby's explorations, collections, artwork, and publications in order to reassess his importance within the pantheon of early naturalists.
Contributors: Kraig Adler, Aaron M. Bauer, Janet Browne, David J. Elliott, W. Hardy Eshbaugh, Kay Etheridge, Stephen A. Harris, Valerie Herbert, Suzanne Linder Hurley, C. E. Jarvis, Shepard Krech III, Mark Laird, Henrietta McBurney, Judith Magee, Sarah Meacham, Cynthia P. Neal, Charles Nelson, Leslie K. Overstreet, Florence F. J. M. Pieters, Ghillean T. Prance, Diana Preston, Michael Preston, Karen Reeds, James L. Reveal, Robert Robertson, Marcus B. Simpson, Jr.
E. Charles Nelson is a botanist who served for two decades as a Horticultural Taxonomist at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, Dublin. He served as Honorary Editor of Archives of Natural History (1999-2012) and has written or edited, singly or collaboratively, nearly forty books. His most recent title is Shadow among Splendours: Lady Charlotte Wheeler-Cuffe's Adventures among the Flowers of Burma, 1897-1921.
David J. Elliott is founder, chairman, and now Honorary Trustee of the Kiawah Island Natural Habitat Conservancy. He has been executive director of the Catesby Commemorative Trust since 2002.