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  Endeavour Replica ~Point Hicks NSW
Replica of HMS Endeavour, off Point Hicks 20th April 1995,
from where Lieutenant James Cook RN first sighted Australia
on Friday 20th April 1770 (ship's log: 19th April)

Voyages of Biological Discovery/R.S. Callow

Wilmslow Guild, Autumn 2009


Introduction. From the sixteenth century onwards, naturalists began to accompany maritime explorers and to return to Europe with ever greater collections of specimens of animals and plants. These collections astounded those back home. They provided a growing challenge to orthodox religion and a great stimulus to scientific understanding. In addition, some of the specimens proved of great commercial value. This short course will explore the way in which this story unfolded, from maritime experience to philosophical deduction and commercial exploitation. It will be supported by illustrated lectures and detailed notes.

●    The scope of biodiversity on land and sea
●    Concepts of species and their inter-relations
●    Geological history and its influence on geographical distribution
●    The theory of evolution by natural selection
●    Commercial exploitation and its political consequences

Pre-requisites: No specialist knowledge will be assumed.

Course Outline. The great navigations of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries opened up new worlds to European explorers. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, naturalists were beginning to accompany the voyagers, making detailed notes of their experiences and collecting large numbers of specimens of animals and plants. These collections were financed in a variety of ways. Joseph Banks and Charles Darwin funded themselves; Hans Sloane and Joseph Hooker served as Surgeons; Henry Bates and Alfred Wallace financed their exploration by selling specimens, publications and  illustrations. The enormous numbers of specimens returned to Europe constituted major challenges to classification and theology. These challenges in turn inspired Linnaeus to develop a revolutionary system of classification and Darwin to advance his theory of natural selection. They also had substantial commercial and political repercussions. All these aspects will be explored during the course. Each session will begin with an illustrated lecture describing the specimens and biological contributions of a particular voyage. The discoveries will be evaluated for their contributions to contemporary thought as well as their lasting legacy. Each lecture will be followed by a discussion of topics raised. Your participation will be encouraged. Lectures will be supported by supplementary notes and by Power-Point presentations which will include graphical and textual evidence. Discussions will be informed by the lectures, recommended books and supplementary notes issued in advance. Participants will be encouraged to prepare for topics under debate, to form their own views and to discuss them with others. No specialist knowledge will be assumed.


  1.    Hans Sloane’s Voyage to Jamaica (1687 − 1689)
  2.    Voyaging with James Cook aboard the Endeavour (1768 − 1771)
  3.    Voyaging with James Cook aboard the Resolution (1772 − 1775)
  4.    Voyaging with Matthew Flinders aboard the Investigator (1801 − 1805)
  5.    Voyaging with Robert Fitzroy aboard the Beagle (1831 − 1836)
  6.    Voyaging with Joseph Hooker aboard the Erebus (1839 - 1843)
  7.    Voyaging with Thomas Huxley aboard the Rattlesnake (1846 - 1850)
  8.    Henry Bates − naturalist on the Amazon (1848 − 1859)
  9.    Alfred Wallace and the Malay Archipelago (1854 − 1862)
10.    Plunging the depths in the Challenger (1872 − 1876)

Recommended Reading

Andel, T.H. van (2nd ed.,1994). "New views on an old planet". Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
     ISBN-10 0 521 44755 0

Aughton, P. (New ed., 2003). "Endeavour: The Story of Captain Cook’s First Great Epic Voyage".
    Phoenix. ISBN-10: 0753817322, ISBN-13: 978 0753817322

Banks, J. (Abridged, 2006). "The Endeavour Journal of Sir Joseph Banks". The Echo Library.
    ISBN-10: 1406800511, ISBN-13: 978 1406800517

Beaglehole, J.G. (1974). "The Journals of Captain James Cook. IV. The Life of Captain James Cook".
     A. & C. Black, London. ISBN-10: 0713613823, ISBN-13: 978 0713613827.

Beddall, B.G. (1969). "Wallace and Bates in the Tropics. An Introduction to the Theory of Natural Selection".
     Collier Macmillan, London. ISBN-10: 0027086801,

    ISBN-13: 978 0027086805

Blunt, W. (1984). "The Compleat Naturalist. A Life of Linnaeus". Collins, London and Glasgow.
     ISBN-10: 0691096368, ISBN-13: 978 0691096360

Brosse, J. (1983). "Great Voyages of Exploration. The Golden Age of Discovery in the Pacific".
    Doubleday. ISBN-10: 0868241822, ISBN-13: 978 0868241821

Brosse, J. (1985). "Great Voyages of Discovery: Circumnavigators and Scientists 1764 − 1843".
    Facts on File Inc. ISBN-10: 081601101X, ISBN-13: 978 0816011018

Collingridge, V. (2003). "Captain Cook: The Life, Death and Legacy of History’s Greatest Explorer".
     Ebury Press. ISBN-10: 0091888980, ISBN-13: 978 0091888985

Cook, J. (abridged, 2003). "James Cook: The Journals". Penguin Classics. ISBN-10: 0140436472,
    ISBN-13: 978 0140436471

Darwin, C. (2nd ed.,1845) "The Voyage of the Beagle" (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature).
     Wordsworth Editions Ltd. ISBN 1853264768

Darwin, C. (1859). "The Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection". Penguin Classics
    (Ed. J.W. Burrow), Penguin Books, London, 1968.

Keynes, R.D. (1979). "The Beagle Record. Selections from the original pictorial records and written
     accounts of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
     ISBN-10: 0521218225, ISBN-13: 978 0521218221

Linklater, K.L. (1972). "The Voyage of the Challenger". Doubleday. ISBN-10: 0385053215,
    ISBN-13: 978 0385053211

O’Brian, P. (1997). "Joseph Banks". The Harvill Press. ISBN-10: 1860464068, ISBN-13: 978 1860464065

MacGregor, A. And Anderson, R. (1994). "Sir Hans Sloane. Collector, Scientist, Antiquary,
    Founding Father of the British Museum". British Museum Press, London.
ISBN-10: 0714120855,
    ISBN-13: 978 0714120850

Moorehead, A. (1969). "Darwin and the Beagle". Hamish Hamilton, London. ISBN 241 01731 9

Rice, T. (2nd ed., 2008). "Voyages of Discovery". The Natural History Museum, London.
    ISBN-10: 0565092308, ISBN-13: 978 0565092306

White, M.E. (1986). "The greening of Gondwana". Reed (William Heinemann), Chatswood,
    NSW, Australia. ISBN 07301 0390 0

Wilson, E.O. (Ed., 2006) "From so simple a beginning: Darwin’s four great books". W.W. Norton & Co. Ltd.
     ISBN 0393061345