The mysterious world beneath the ocean's surface has captivated man for centuries-the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and ancient Chinese all kept fish in their homes for purposes other than the culinary. But it was not until the nineteenth-century invention of the aquarium that the deep was truly domesticated, offering the curiously inclined a chance to invent their very own exotic sea world within their own walls.
This compelling story of obsession, discovery and delight shows how aquariums have gone from being tools for scientific observation, to the Victorian era's elaborately decorated containers of curiosity, to the great public aquariums that are popular in cities around the world today. Along the way, Bernd Brunner provides insight into the cultural and social circumstances that accompanied the aquarium's swift rise in popularity.
The book offers a colourful look at how a Victorian obsession still enchants many worldwide. Both the owner of a humble goldfish bowl and the dazzled spectator at a major public aquarium will find this an appealing and knowledgable guide to the aquatic worlds we create.
Bernd Brunner is a Berlin-based writer. He is also the author of "Bears: A Brief History" (2007) and "Moon: A Brief History" (2010).
[Brunner's] cultured but unpretentious style carries with it a real sense of the Victorian drawing room, an impression reinforced by the wealth of contemporary engravings he has chosen to illustrate his text.
- Times Literary Supplement
"A fascinating book."
- San Francisco Chronicle
"This is a truly fascinating and most charmingly illustrated history of the aquarium"
- Juliet Clutton-Brock, Anthrozoos