Citizen Labillardière — A Naturalist’s Life in Revolution and Exploration (1755-1834)
by Dr Edward Duyker
The Mienguyah Press, Melbourne University Publishing, 2003
The first comprehensive study of eighteenth-century naturalist
Jacques-Julien Houtou de Labillardière — a story of science, survival and a grand adventure.
‘Duyker’s own research is extensive and meticulous . . . We should be glad to have [Duyker’s vigorous sketch] added to our national story in this attractive edition.‘ (Peter Fuller, The Canberra Times, 26/7/2003)
‘This exciting and elegantly written biography is the first comprehensive study of Labillardière, revealing a remarkable individual . . . This is a story of science, survival and a grand adventure.‘ (Le Courier Australien, April 2003)
Jacques-Julien Houtou de Labillardière was one of the great traveller-naturalists of the eighteenth century. He is most famous for his account of his voyage to the South Seas with Bruny d’Entrecasteaux in search of La Pérouse in 1791-93.
Labillardière’s Relation was an international bestseller in its day, helping to usher the southern continent into the European imagination. During his visit to the south-western coast of New Holland and his two sojourns in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), Labillardière also laid the foundations for his magnificent Novae Hollandiae plantarum specimen (1804-06), which is justly recognised as the ‘first general flora of Australia’. He was also the author of the first published flora of New Caledonia.
In researching this exciting and elegantly written biography, Edward Duyker revisited many of the naturalist’s landfalls around the world. He also examined a wide range of archival and museum collections to piece together Labillardière’s correspondence and observations. The result is the first comprehensive study of the naturalist, revealing a committed republican who was shaped by the turbulent years of revolutionary and Napoleonic France.
Dr Duyker ranges widely: from the tranquil cloisters of Normandy to the pillaged libraries and museums of Italy, from the Cedars of Lebanon to the verdant islands of the Pacific, from the frozen passes of the Alps to the parched shores of New Holland. This is a story of science, survival and a grand adventure.
Table of Contents
2 Medical Student
3 Albion and the Alps
4 To the Cedars of Lebanon
5 Universal Ferment
6 The Genesis of a Rescue
7 To Tenerife and the Cape
8 Van Diemen’s Land
9 On to Amboina
10 New Holland
11 Back to Van Diemen’s Land
12 The Friendly Islands
13 New Caledonia
14 The Disintegration of the Expedition
15 Hear, O Heavens of France!
17 Savant Célèbre
Glossary of Scientific Terms
Glossary of French Terms and Institutions
Appendix: Labillardière’s Library
About the Author
Dr Edward Duyker is an independent historian, based in Sydney, and the author of fourteen books. Nature’s Argonaut, his biography of the Swedish naturalist Daniel Solander, was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s General History Prize in 1999. He is a fellow of the Linnean Society of London, the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Historical Society, and an Honorary Associate of the Department of French Studies, University of Sydney. In 2000 he was made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French government.