skip to primary navigationskip to content

Edwin Rose

PhD student

College: Churchill

Supervisor: Jim Secord, Nick Jardine

Thesis topic: Managing nature in the age of enlightenment: the practice of natural history in Britain, 1760–1830

My current doctoral research is on the management of information in British natural history collections between 1760 and 1830, examining the relationship between physical objects, printed books, manuscripts and different paper technologies. These are surveyed through naturalists’ use of books in the field, the use of collections to produce and distribute publications on a global scale, along with the circulation of specimens, prints and books to produce natural knowledge. This research examines how different systems of classification shaped and controlled the practice of natural history, features which become ever more apparent following the establishment of the Linnaean system in Britain from the early 1760s. The primary collections being concentrated on are those of Joseph Banks (1743–1820), President of the Royal Society, whose primary interests were in botany, and Thomas Pennant (1726–98), a pioneering zoologist who published numerous works, perhaps the most important being British Zoology. These contemporaries had divergent views on how to classify nature, produce and distribute publications alongside maintaining a global network of correspondents, shedding light on events from Cook’s voyages to the onset of commercial publishing in the early nineteenth century.

Research interests: History of natural history c.1650–1900; histories of the book; collecting; museums; classification; scientific images; print culture and ephemera; the earth sciences

Websites: Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership;



'Natural history collections and the book: Hans Sloane's A Voyage to Jamaica (1707-25) and his Jamaican plants'Journal of the History of Collections, 30: 1 (2018), pp. 15-33.

'Specimens, Slips and Systems: Daniel Solander and the classification of nature at the world's first public museum, 1753-1768', The British Journal for the History of Science, 52: 2 (2018), pp. 205-237. 

Co-authored with Anna Marie Roos, 'Lives and Afterlives of the Lithophylacii Britannici ichnographia (1699), the First Illustrated Field Guide to English Fossils'Nuncius: Journal of the Material and Visual History of Science, 33 (2018), pp. 505-536. 

'Gilbert White, John Ray and the construction of the Natural History of Selborne', Archives of Natural History (In Press, 2019).


'James Delbourgo, Collecting the World: The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane (London: Allen Lane, 2017)', The British Journal for the History of Science, 50 (2017), pp. 731-732.

'Cook's Voyages to the Pacific after 250 years. Exhibition review of James Cook: The Voyages, at the British Library, London, April-August 2018. British Library, £14.00'Endeavour, 42 (2018), pp. 204-205. 


'An age of Discoveries: 250 Years since the Endeavour Voyage to the Pacific', Cambridge University Library, Cambridge, 28 August - 29 September 2018. 

Other Professional Affiliations and Activities

Visiting Fellow, Harvard University History of Science Department, October 2018.  

Affiliate of the Natural History Museum, London, 2016-

Convener for the Cabinet of Natural History Research Seminar, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, 2016-2017