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Gilbert White
The Natural History of Selborne
Illustrated manuscript

Excerpt from Heritage 100, UK:

The Natural History of Selborne
Gilbert White’s Original Manuscript

This manuscript takes the form of transcripts of letters written by Gilbert White to two correspondents, Thomas Pennant and Daines Barrington, both leading naturalists of the day.

The manuscript is a working draft based on the original letters and contains many revisions and unpublished notes. First published in 1789, Gilbert White’s Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne is one of the few books published in the English language so many years ago that has never been out of print – in company with the Bible, the works of William Shakespeare and John Bunyans Pilgrim’s Progress.

In the letters, Gilbert discussed his observations and theories about the local flora and fauna in a charming and immediate way. As an enthusiastic gardener he experimented, observed and recorded everything to do with his garden. These interests led him to his insights into natural history.

Gilbert White meticulously and systematically recorded observations about the weather and the flora and fauna of Selborne. His writings provide fascinating comparisons for those studying natural history today as his journals, kept for most of his life (the Garden Kalendar, 1751-67, Flora Selborniensis, 1766, and his Naturalist’s Journal, 1768-93) are unique in their detail and the length of time that they span.

Also see the Project Gutenberg pages on The Natural History of Selborne


Gilbert White, British, (1720–1793)
b. July 18, 1720, Selborne, UK
d. 1793
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