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 this volume 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.
SHEPARD KRECH III is a professor of anthropology and director of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University. He is a past president of the American Society for Ethnohistory and has been a fellow and trustee of the National Humanities Center. His many books include The Ecological Indian and Encyclopedia of World Environmental History.