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From modest shoot to forward plant
Author: Sam George

The stereotype of the forward, sexually precocious female botanist made its first appearance in literature in the turbulent revolutionary climate of the 1790s. The emergence of this figure illustrates both the contemporary appeal, particularly to women, of the Linnaean Sexual System of botanical classification, and the anxieties surrounding female modesty that it provoked. This book explores the cultivation of the female mind and the feminised discourse of botanical literature in eighteenth-century Britain. In particular, it discusses British women's engagement with the Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus, and his unsettling discovery of plant sexuality. The book also explores nationality and sexuality debates in relation to botany and charts the appearance of a new literary stereotype, the sexually precocious female botanist. It investigates the cultivation of the female mind and its implications for the theories of the feminised discourse of botanical literature. The book also investigates a process of feminisation of botany in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's and Priscilla Wakefield's letters on botany; these were literary and educational texts addressed specifically to women. Linnaean classification exemplified order, making botany an ideal discipline for young British women in the eighteenth century. Erasmus Darwin's explicit discussion of sexuality related to the aura of illicit sexuality that had surrounded Sir Joseph Banks. Richard Polwhele appropriates Collinsonia's image of the promiscuous female to allude to Mary Wollstonecraft's sexuality, drawing on forward plants in Darwin and Thomas Mathias. The book finally looks at early nineteenth-century debates and demonstrates how scientific botany came into conflict with the craft of floristry.

Abstract only
Sam George

heroine is a female botanist, ‘Miss Beccabunga Veronica of Diandria Hall’. 2 Veronica’s precocious search for botanical specimens parallels her immodest search for a husband. With only Erasmus Darwin’s provocative account of The Loves of the Plants ( 1789 ) to guide her, ‘she has been studying the system of plants, till she now wishes to know the system of man’ (i.1

in Botany, sexuality and women’s writing 1760–1830
Peter M. Jones

leading members of the Lunar group – Darwin, Boulton, Keir, Watt, Priestley and perhaps Withering – all maintained an extensive and overlapping correspondence with Europe’s elite of natural philosophers. Although James Keir and Joseph Priestley’s papers have not survived, the epistolary correspondence of Matthew Boulton, James Watt and, to a lesser degree, Erasmus Darwin is both voluminous 72 Industrial Enlightenment and highly specific. Not only does this corpus allow us to reconstruct the vascular system and to track the pulsations of natural knowledge throughout

in Industrial Enlightenment
Sam George

in order to celebrate English pre-eminence in the Arts. 13 Emma Crewe, ‘Flora at Play with Cupid’ (frontispiece to The Loves of the Plants). Reproduced from Erasmus Darwin, The Botanic Garden

in Botany, sexuality and women’s writing 1760–1830
Botany and sexual anxiety in the late eighteenth century
Sam George

finest of scenes. 56 Sir Charles is an obvious caricature of Erasmus Darwin, and Veronica makes no secret of her admiration of his botanical/sexual knowledge: ‘Oh Sir Charles! I am no stranger to your perfect knowledge of the Linnaean system’ (I.3.17). Throughout the text botanical conversation is made to substitute for discussions around courtship

in Botany, sexuality and women’s writing 1760–1830
Intoxication and Romanticism
James Nicholls

6 Ungovernable passions: intoxication and Romanticism He will come to know it, whenever he shall arrive in that state in which, paradoxical as it may appear, reason shall only visit him through intoxication. (Charles Lamb) Hence the drunkard ceases to attend to external stimuli, and as volition is now also suspended, the trains of his ideas become totally inconsistent as in dreams or delirium. (Erasmus Darwin) The question above all others that nagged at philosophers, political thinkers and doctors throughout the eighteenth century was: ‘What is it to be human

in The politics of alcohol
Abstract only
Sam Illingworth

established. Given that this book came about as a direct response to a poem written by Edgar Allan Poe at the beginning of the nineteenth century, I did not want to extend too far beyond this timeframe. Arguably the most important person to be excluded because of this criterion is the English physiologist and botanist Erasmus Darwin, but I would urge interested readers to seek out Martin Priestman’s The Poetry of Erasmus Darwin: Enlightened Spaces, Romantic Times , which presents a brilliant account of Darwin’s literary accomplishments and scientific achievements. 21

in A sonnet to science
Abstract only
Rosalind Powell

technology under examination in this book. Perhaps the most familiar application of analogy as an ordering and explanatory device in the eighteenth century is its use in the botany of Carl Linnaeus. Linnaeus’s novel method of plant classification through sexual analogies that categorise the plant kingdom according to human hierarchies and relationships (based upon the counting of stamens and pistils, which he describes as ‘husbands’ and ‘wives’) has already been explored in depth, particularly in relation to Erasmus Darwin’s

in Perception and analogy
Medicine and the world of letters
Michael Brown

they should pursue ‘any genteel accomplishment, that becomes 50 Performing medicine a gentleman’, for such ‘amusement[s]’ served as a relaxation ‘from the severer studies of his profession’ and rendered his conversation ‘more chearful [sic] and entertaining’. ‘[I]nstead of that awkward pedantry, which modern men of learning have generally chosen to distinguish themselves’ they ‘diffuse[d] a liberal, ingenious, and elegant air over his whole manner’.10 Others put such sentiments into practice. Erasmus Darwin was probably better known to the public as an author of

in Performing medicine
Globes, panoramas, fictions, and oceans
Peter Otto

audience, it echoes the subject matter of the painting, namely the creation (apparently ex nihilo) of an antipodean colony, which seemed likely to become an ‘Albion reborn’. 25 In Burford’s Description of a View of the Town of Sydney , these parallels between panoramic illusion, fledgling colony, and regenerated Albion are foregrounded by the poem he chose as epigraph – ‘Visit of Hope to Sydney-Cove, Near Botany-Bay’, by Erasmus Darwin. Darwin’s poem first appeared as epigraph to The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay, with an Account of the Establishment of

in Worlding the south