The Multifarious Mr. Banks by Toby Musgrave


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A fascinating life of Sir Joseph Banks which restores him to his proper place in history as a leading scientific figure of the English Enlightenment

'An extensive, admiring account of his subject’s circuitous route to fame and power.'―Wall Street Journal

'Readers interested in the British Enlightenment, the history of science, or the lives of great figures who played leading roles in England’s emergence as a global presence will enjoy this highly informative book.'―Choice

As official botanist on James Cook's first circumnavigation, the longest-serving president of the Royal Society, advisor to King George III, the 'father of Australia', and the man who established Kew as the world's leading botanical garden, Sir Joseph Banks was integral to the English Enlightenment. Yet he has not received the recognition that his multifarious achievements deserve.

In this engaging account, Toby Musgrave reveals the true extent of Banks’s contributions to science and Britain. From an early age Banks pursued his passion for natural history through study and extensive travel, most famously on the HMS Endeavour. He went on to become a pivotal figure in the advancement of British scientific, economic, and colonial interests. With his enquiring, enterprising mind and extensive network of correspondents, Banks’s reputation and influence were global. Drawing widely on Banks's writings, Musgrave sheds light on Banks's profound impact on British science and empire in an age of rapid advancement.

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