Sir John Hill and Linnaean Taxonomy in Georgian England


Sir John Hill and Linnean Taxonomy in Georgian England

Monday 2nd December 2013, 18.00 - 19.00

Speaker: George Rousseau, Oxford University

Lusus Naturae

Today, three centuries after Linnaeus generated his system of binomial classification, debate still endures about who introduced it into Georgian England. One primary contender was Sir John Hill, the well-known eighteenth-century English botanist and eccentric polymath who continued to assert he got there first. But Hill was notorious, even scandalous, and could not always be trusted to tell the truth. Besides, even if he did, primacy in scientific and artistic realms is tricky business and specifically depends on what is meant by first. Is he first who popularizes Linnaeus among his countrymen, who introduces Linnaeus' methods into his botanical treatises, who puts into botanical field practice the Linnaean methods, or he who provides the first systematic endorsement of the system? Answers to such questions matter in the history of science.

This event is free and open to all, registration is not necessary. Tea and coffee will be served in the Library from 17.30, a wine reception will follow the lecture.

Image above: “Lusus Naturae, or Carracaturas of the present Age”, 1753, showing Hill in the left foreground amidst the most remarkable of his contemporaries. Reproduced by kind permission of the Trustees of the British Museum.

Fellows can be formally admitted at this event. If you are an elected Fellow and you would like to be formally admitted on this evening, please contact the office in advance.

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