Autograph letter signed to an unidentified correspondent. William Jackson Hooker.

Autograph letter signed to an unidentified correspondent.

Publisher Information: London: 1848.

Hooker, William Jackson (1785-1865). Autograph letter signed to an unidentified correspondent. [London,] Royal Gardens, Kew, Nov. 16, 1848. 2-1/2pp. 178 x 112 mm. Fine.

Hooker, the first full-time director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, devoted himself to the study of botany from an early age, specializing in mosses, liverworts and other cryptogamia. He served as regius professor of botany at the University of Glasgow from 1820 to 1841, when he was appointed to head Kew Gardens. Under Hooker's leadership Kew grew from eleven acres to its present size of nearly 300 acres, and its collections vastly increased, largely due to a network of Hooker's former students who brought in specimens from around the world. Hooker's own herbarium, which contained some 4000 volumes and one million dried plant specimens, was purchased by the British government for the nation after Hooker's death. Hooker was the author of over two dozen works on botany, including British Jungermanniae (1816), which established hepaticology (the study of liverworts) as a separate field; he also edited several botanical journals.

In his letter Hooker thanks his correspondent for sending him plant specimens from India:

"The two cases of Plants for Dr. Falconer were delivered in good time. I have now to thank you for a parcel received today from Mr. Dalzell, Bombay, containing some very interesting Plants.

"Truly I have much more novelty from the East of India than any other portion of that vast territory."

"Dr. Falconer" refers to Hugh Falconer (1808-65), the distinguished botanist, geologist and paleontologist who was the first to come up with a "punctuated equilibrium" theory of evolution. Falconer spent many years in India, where he ran the Saharanpur and Calcutta botanical gardens and put together an enormous collection of plant and fossil specimens from the region.

Hooker also touches on the activities of his son, naturalist Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911):

"You know, I dare say that Kinchinjunga [i.e., Kangchenjunga, in the Himalayas5] is now ascertained to be the highest mountain in the world, 28,172 ft.-about 60 miles north of Darjeeling. Dr. Hooker is now gone to explore it, as much as he can."

Joseph Hooker spent three years (1848-50) exploring the Himalayas, and was the first European to collect plants from the region. Kangchenjunga, which straddles the border between India and Nepal, was believed to be the world's tallest mountain until 1852, when the results of the British Great Trigonometric Survey revealed that Mt. Everest was the taller peak.

Book Id: 40457

Price: $1,750.00

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