George Bennett, F.L.S., Wanderings in New South Wales, Batavia, Pedir Coast, Singapore, and China; being the Journal of a Naturalist in those Countries, during 1832, 1833, and 1834. Adelaide: Libraries Board of South Australia, 1967. Two octavo volumes, Australiana Facsimile Editions No. 115 (facsimile of first edition, London: Richard Bentley, 1834). Hardcover, gold lettered spines, boards bound in blue vinyl. Vol. I: xv + 441 pages, engraved Frontispiece, Half title, Title, Contents , 21 Chapters, b&w diagrams in text, Note. Vol. II: viii + 428 pages, engraved Frontispiece, Half title, Title, Contents , 12 Chapters, b&w illustrations in text, Appendix.
Condition: As New, complete and unblemished, no foxing.
The naturalist, zoologist and medical practitioner George Bennett (1804-1893) was regarded as ‘the greatest of the physician-naturalists of Australia’, after whom an impressive number of plants and animals were named. Born at Plymouth, England, Bennett went on the first of many sea voyages at the age of 15. On returning, he studied in Plymouth and at Middlesex Hospital and the Hunterian, gaining membership of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1828. From 1828-1835 Bennett wandered through the Pacific, in 1831 returning to England with a large collection of plants, a live ape and a New Hebridean girl who died in Plymouth three years later. Bennett first visited Australia in 1829 and subsequently wrote many papers on natural history, particularly on living animals and Australian fauna, which led to his election as a Fellow of London’s Linnean Society and a corresponding member of the Zoological Society.
Richard Owen, Britain’s leading comparative anatomist, greatly influenced Bennett, especially on palaeontological matters, throughout his Australian career. On revisiting Australia in 1832, Bennett was struck by the country’s diverse flora, and sent Owen many specimens of extant fauna and fossils, in 1834 publishing Wanderings in New South Wales, a ‘work of merit for its good writing and generally sound observation’. Back in England, Bennett was awarded the honorary gold medal of the Royal College of Surgeons for his contribution to zoological science. He returned in 1836 to Australia, where he established a successful medical practice in Sydney and was associated closely with the Australian Museum as its first Secretary and later Director, and also with the Acclimatization Society and the Zoological Society. Bennett acted as John Gould’s agent. In 1860 Bennett published Gatherings of a Naturalist in Australasia. At the advanced age of 86, in 1890, Bennett was awarded the Clarke memorial medal by the Royal Society of New South Wales. He had eight children by three wives and the large library he left was rejected by the University of Sydney and sold at public auction.