Life Sciences

We have a superb range of historical material relating to biological and life sciences, particularly in the areas of botany, ornithology and zoology. (For information about historical collections relating to human anatomy, physiology etc, see our subject page for Medicine.)

The following collections are particularly relevant:

  • Douglas Papers: early 18th century medical and scientific papers, including botanical and zoological studies (with important material on the Guernsey Lily and a corpus of drawings and engravings of the rhinoceros)
  • Euing: includes a small corpus of material on marine biology
  • Hunterian: includes many important early printed and illustrated editions of botanical and zoological works
  • Walker-Arnott: 970 volumes of botanical literature including some of the finest examples of 18th- and 19th-century illustrated flower books
  • Bower: collection of 150 works of botanical literature

Other relevant material is dispersed throughout other collections. For instance, we have a number of important 19th century illustrated plate books (including a copy of Audubon's Birds of America) in the general rare book collections. To search across all our collections, by name or keyword, please use the rare books search (for printed material) and the manuscripts search (for unpublished material including notebooks, papers, photographs and drawings).

Many of our wonderfully illustrated works on natural history and zoology have featured in web exhibitions and as books of the month: