Why should we celebrate the anniversary of a book about the plants of Cambridgeshire published in Latin 350 years ago? Well, here are a few of the reasons. The Catalogus plantarum circa Cantabrigiam nascentium was the first British county flora, setting a superb scientific standard for its successors. Its author, John Ray (1627-1705), became the pre-eminent British naturalist, eclipsed only by Charles Darwin. Though an Essex man, he travelled widely and, to mention only a minor contribution, left us the earliest list of birds breeding on the Farne Islands. Finally, our library has acquired an almost complete collection of first or early editions of his pioneering works, on birds, quadrupeds, fishes, insects and geology as well as botany (several are even in English). Come and celebrate.
David Gardner-Medwin has on many occasions introduced us to different parts of our Library’s treasures. This evening is no exception when he looks at one of our very important early naturalists. His knowledge of rare books and the history of Natural History is well known to our members.