Imperial Nature

Joseph Hooker and the Practices of Victorian Science

Jim Endersby

Hooker website
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Imperial Nature cover

Imperial Nature is my book on Hooker, which was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2008. It was reprinted in 2009 and the press expects to produce a paperback edition in autumn 2010.

The Journal of the History of Biology reviewed the book in January 2010, and their reviewer, Sandra Herbert, commented that 'it is clear that Joseph Hooker was an influential man of science, and that, in a fascinating and subtle study, Jim Endersby has brought us deeper into his world".

The Journal of British Studies reviewed the book in January 2010, commenting that Endersby's 'sophisticated attention to the impact of daily scientific practice forces us to reevaluate our understanding of, and historiographical approach to, Victorian British natural history. It will provoke and inform much fresh research'.

The journal Isis reviewed the book in December 2009 and commented that 'By recreating, with subtle detail, the day-to-day toil of Joseph Hooker and his colonial collectors, Endersby offers a unique perspective on hotly debated topics in Victorian science studies,
including professionalization, the reception of Darwinism, and the role of empire in fashioning knowledge in the Victorian era'. And also argued that 'Imperial Nature adds significantly to our understanding of the multifaceted and far from inevitable ascendancy of the professional scientist in Victorian culture'.

The book also got a very favourable review in Nineteenth-Century Contexts in September 2009.

The British Journal for the History of Science reviewed the book (March 2009), and commented that Endersby 'tells us definitively about the vexed meaning of "professionalization" in the Victorian period, the place of experiment and observation in natural history, the role of mapping and publishing and publicizing – all supported by astonishing detail from published and archival material. A short review cannot come close to doing Imperial Nature justice'.

The journal Victorian Studies reviewed it (Autumn 2008), describing it as 'a remarkable, deeply researched, multidimensional study' adding that Endersby's 'views will invite controversy while at the same time requiring other historians of the culture and practice of Victorian science to reconsider many of their existing presuppositions. This is a book to be read and pondered'.

The Times Higher Education reviewed the book on 24 July, describing it as a ‘fascinating study’.

The Quarterly Review of Biology (December 2008) argued that 'its approach and the light it sheds on the influence of daily practice on scientific concepts should make it mandatory reading for anyone interested in the history of science'

Science (7 Nov 2008) commented: "Imperial Nature is not a conventional scientific biography. The usual fare of birth, love, and death is largely absent. Instead, Endersby give us a detailed, scholarly account with a deeper point: that science is about more than the grand battles of competing ideas. In doing so, he provides a richly textured account of a period in which the status of natural science was far more precarious than it is today. And the book will hopefully stand as a reminder, during next year's Darwin celebrations, of just how many unsung individuals contributed to the scientific progress of the age."

Annals of Botany (October 2008) said "Each chapter is closely argued, presenting that abundance of evidence demanded by the historian of science. The book fills an important gap in the history of our subject, so deserves to find its way into the library of every institution where botany is taught".

The book has also been reviewed in Nature (5 June 2008), in the Times Literary Supplement and in the London Review of Books.

Last updated 24/2/10

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