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JOSEPH DALTON HOOKER (1817-1911) Autograph Letter Signed
Name: JOSEPH DALTON HOOKER (1817-1911) Autograph Letter Signed
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  JOSEPH DALTON HOOKER (1817-1911) Autograph Letter Signed
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  JOSEPH DALTON HOOKER (1817-1911) Autograph Letter Signed
click to see larger image
   

Description

SIR JOSEPH DALTON HOOKER Autograph Letter Signed.

British botanist and explorer. Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and Charles Darwin's closest friend.
 
ALS. 1p plus integral blank leaf.  Royal Gardens, Kew.  Thursday, no date or year. To "Dear George".
 
The handwriting is in Hooker's bold but hasty hand and is somewhat difficult to decipher. It appears to read "The seeds of the ivory palm nut are sent proceed (?) by the . . . (?) Magdalena . . . " (remainder we have not been able to discern).
 
8vo. Approx 7.25 x 4.5 inches. Mounting traces and a small piece of an old album leaf adhering to verso of the integral blank leaf, else fine.
 
Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker was one of the greatest botanists and explorers of the 19th century. Hooker led or took part in numerous expeditions to the Arctic, the Himalayas, India and elsewhere and was the founder of modern geographical botany. He was, for 20 years, the Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Joseph Dalton Hooker was the first man of science to publicly support Darwin's theory of natural selection and he became Darwin's closest friend and confidant.  The addressee of the letter is probably Hooker's colleague at Kew, George Bentham (nephew of the philosopher, Jeremy Bentham). Bentham's family had settled in Montpellier, France and George Bentham had divided his time between France and England before coming to work full-time at Kew. George Bentham and Joseph Dalton Hooker collaborated on the great work 'The Handbook of British Flora', known simply as 'Bentham and Hooker', it remained the standard work for students of British botany for over a century. The reference in the letter to 'Magdalena' is possibly to the Bay of Magdalena northwest of La Paz, from where Sir Edward Belcher had sent back botanical specimens during the voyage of HMS Sulphur. George Bentham had been the author of 'The Botany of the Voyage of HMS Sulphur' and had donated the resulting collection of seeds and specimens to Joseph Dalton Hooker at Kew.
 
Provenance: From a 19th century album compiled by the Blyth family. The family appears to have had some connection with Benjamin Blyth, the engineer, and the thrice premier of Australia, Arthur Blyth. Another member of the family, Edward Blyth, was a London solicitor who represented Elizabeth Blackwell (the first woman doctor of medicine) and Robert Tichborne (aka Arthur Orton, 'The Tichborne Claimant').

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