Published by BRILL, Emergence of Natural History, Volume: 1, May 2016
Editor: Tim Birkhead
Contributor: Sachiko Kusukawa, Principle Investigator, Making Visible: The visual and graphic practices of the early Royal Society (2015 – 2019)
Other contributors: Tim Birkhead, Isabelle Charmantier, David Cram, Meghan Doherty, Mark Greengrass, Daisy Hildyard, Dorothy Johnston, Brian Ogilvie, William Poole, Chris Preston, Anna Marie Roos, Richard Serjeantson, Paul J Smith and Benjamin Wardhaugh
Francis Willughby together with John Ray revolutionized the study of natural history. They were motivated by the new philosophy of the mid 1600s and transformed natural history in to a rigorous area of study. Because Ray lived longer and more of his writings have survived, his reputation subsequently eclipsed that of Willughby. Now, with access to previously unexplored archives and new discoveries we are able to provide a comprehensive evaluation of Francis Willughby’s life and works. What emerges is a polymath, a true virtuoso, who made original and imaginative contributions to mathematics, chemistry, linguistics as well as natural history. We use Willughby’s short life as a lens through which to view the entire process of seventeenth-century scientific endeavour.