“The best book of Natural History Travels ever published in England,” said Charles Darwin of entomologist Henry Walter Bates’s 1863 The Naturalist on the River Amazons, an 11-year journal inspired partly by Darwin’s diary of his 1831–36 journey on the HMS Beagle. This enchanting part-facsimile justifies his words. Bates writes grippingly on anacondas, bird-killing spiders and blowpipes. Although little-known now, his name endures in ‘Batesian mimicry’: a survival strategy based on apeing harmful species, which he observed in butterflies.
THE WELL-READ NATURALIST
Johannes E. Riutta
“This new book presents full-color, life-sized images form the pages of Bates’ first and second Amazon journals, combined with selections from his The Naturalist on the River Amazon; A Record of Adventures, Habits of Animals, Sketches of Brazilian and Indian Life, and Aspects of Nature under the Equator, during Eleven Years of Travel. This new Smithsonian volume offers a vivid introduction into Bates’ explorations, discoveries, and theories, and – as with similar but in-person natural history exhibitions – it is hoped that it will serve to inspire curiosity in many who read it to learn more about one of the Nineteenth Century’s most significant writers in evolutionary biology.”