Illustrated Natural History by the Rev. J.G. Wood, published by George Routledge and Sons, New York, 1886 is our featured book for the month of February.
John George Wood, or Rev J. G. Wood, (July 21, 1827–March 3, 1889), was a popular English writer on natural history. Born in London, he was a very prolific writer, though rather as a populariser than as a scientific investigator, and was in this way very successful. For example, his book Common objects of the country sold 100,000 copies in a week.
Indeed, he sought to write for the popular reader, setting aside technicalities and scientific phraseology and only explaining them clearly and simply when necessary. He never swerved from this principle throughout his literary career. He used only simple and plainly intelligable language which conveyed accurate knowledge. As Wood explains in the preface to Illustrated Natural History: “Although the number of works on Natural History might deter any new writer from venturing on so extensively handled a subject, there is at present no work of a really popular character in which accuracy of information and systematic arrangement are united with brevity and simplicity of treatment.” He describes his writing of this volume as a “labor of love” and notes “how wonderfully each creature is adapted for its particular station by Him [God] who has appointed to each its proper position, and assigned to each its own duties, which could not be performed so well by any other creature, or even by the same animal in any other place….”
The volume covers animals for apes to zebras, amphibians, fish, and insects and contains numerous illustrations. Also included is an “Anthropological and Ethnographic Introduction” by Carl Henrik Andreas Bjerregaard, a librarian who wrote extensively on the subjects and was considered an authority on mysticism.
The book is of embossed cloth over board from the Victorian era with decorative lettering.
To see Illustrated Natural History, visit Special Collections in the Bartle Library and ask for QL 50 W879 1886. We are located on the second floor off of the North Reading Room.