Press Release: Joseph Banks

Joseph Banks
Patrick O’Brian

Introduced by Peter Campbell

‘Banks was a passionate naturalist … To assist him, he recruited a naturalist, a clerk and assistant artist and two artist-draughtsmen. To look after his personal welfare, he had four servants. And to complete his entourage, he brought two of his favourite greyhounds’
DAVID ATTENBOROUGH on the HMS Endeavour expedition


Joseph Banks (1743–1820) was a naturalist, an explorer, President of the Royal Society and ultimately one of the most influential figures of the 18th century. As a young man he accompanied Captain Cook on his first great voyage of discovery to the South Seas, New Zealand and Australia. Returning with thousands of specimens of plants and animals, accounts of native peoples, and drawings and charts of a previously unknown continent, its achievements transformed Europe’s knowledge of almost half the world and made Banks a national hero.

Patrick O’Brian is the best-selling author of the Aubrey-Maturin series of naval historical novels set during the Napoleonic Wars. O’Brian drew on the life of Banks when writing the series; his much-loved main characters were influenced by the botanist. With his meticulous research skills and a genuine affection for his subject, O’Brian is an inspired biographer. He uses generous extracts from Banks’s journals, believing that the man’s own words would bring the reader ‘directly in touch with Banks’. The extracts reveal his sense of wonder, his ebullience and his powers of observation, summoning a time when the field of natural history still contained marvellous worlds to be discovered.

JOB3Reflecting the wealth of knowledge collected and collated by Banks, this edition features 24 pages of colour images, including beautiful botanical and natural history paintings from the Endeavour voyage, as well as maps and nautical drawings. The binding illustration, by Chris Wormell, nods to a life packed with curiosities. Peter Campbell, critic for the London Review of Books, has written an introduction praising the pleasing aptness of O’Brian as the biographer of the great explorer and botanist.

Product information
Three-quarter-bound in cloth with a Modigliani paper front board, blocked and printed with a design by Chris Wormell. Set in Adobe Caslon Pro. 440 pages. Frontispiece and 24 pages of colour plates. 9″ x 6¼”.

UK £34.95 US $57.95 Can $72.95 Aus $72.95



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UK & ROW Nicola Handley, Cherish PR
020 8735 4245,

US & Canada
Cathleen P. Williamson (617) 435-5505,