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Philip Henry Gosse, Philip Henry Gosse, 0817317082, 0-8173-1708-2, 978-0-8173-1708-9, 9780817317089,

Philip Henry Gosse
Science and Art in Letters from Alabama and Entomologia Alabamensis
Gary R. Mullen and Taylor D. Littleton

Trade Cloth
2010. 144 pp.
57 Illustrations
Price:  $29.95 t

Philip Henry Gosse’s detailed watercolors of Alabama’s native insects and plants represent a landmark in the annals of American natural history. Offered for the first time are the complete full-color illustrations from Gosse’s Entomologia Alabamensis, along with a biographical essay placing Gosse’s work in the context of his long and fruitful life.


Born in 1810 in Worcester, England, the young Philip Henry Gosse developed a passion for the natural world. Having learned the basics of miniature portraiture from his father, Gosse quickly took for his artistic subjects the flourishing marine life he discovered along the English coast. In May, 1838, Gosse took a teaching job in Dallas County, Alabama. For the next eight months he collected the insect specimens that he would preserve in the beautifully detailed watercolors of Entomologia Alabamensis. In addition, he composed a highly personalized chronology of his life in a frontier culture, published eventually as Letters from Alabama. Following his return to England, Gosse went on to publish more than 40 books, producing some of the 19th century’s finest illustrations of insects and marine organisms. Today, he is remembered as a popular writer of science for the general public and as a passionate artist whose work in Alabama and elsewhere captured and revealed the beauty and vitality of the natural world. 

Copublication with the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art and Auburn University Libraries.

Gary R. Mullen is Professor of Entomology, Emeritus, Auburn University, and co-editor, with Lance A. Durden, of Medical and Veterinary Entomology, currently in its second edition.


Taylor D. Littleton is Mosley Professor of Science and Humanities, Emeritus, Auburn University, and coauthor, with Maltby Sykes, of Advancing American Art: Painting, Politics, and Cultural Confrontation at Mid-Century.


Bonnie MacEwan is the Dean of Libraries, Auburn University, and co-editor, with Peggy Johnson, of Virtually Yours: Models for Managing Electronic Resources and Services.


Marilyn Laufer is Director of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University and coauthor of Myths and Metaphors: The Art of Leo Twiggs.

“This excellent presentation of Gosse’s insect paintings is a perfect complement to his classic Letters from Alabama. Beautifully reproduced here, with a full biography of Gosse, they are an important contribution to the history of American science.”
—E.O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Anthill and Sociobiology

"Philip Henry Gosse was a remarkably talented English 19th-century scientific author and artist. He was a keen observer of small marine, insect, and animal life who wrote and illustrated many books on his observations. In his youth, he lived for a while in Newfoundland and, of course, Alabama, where he wrote of his scientific observations and created many wonderful, exquisitely detailed, life-size paintings of insects, using techniques of miniature painting he learned from his father. He was a well-known scientist, but also a devout fundamentalist Christian to whom nature was evidence of God's creation. Although his Letters from Alabama and some other books are still in print, the exquisite paintings from his notebook, Entomologia Alabamensis, had never been published. Here, on the bicentennial of his birth, Mullen and Littleton (both, Auburn Univ.) present them for the first time, together with an extended essay about Gosse's life and work and its significance. The 49 beautiful, detailed plates depict many insects, especially butterflies and moths, some with the plants on which they feed. All are carefully identified with current scientific names. This significant contribution to the history of science as well as art history should interest libraries collecting in these areas. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General, academic, and professional readers, all levels."


"There remains, as the principal memento of these months in the south, still unpublished, a quarto volume entitled Entomologia Alabamensis, containing 233 figures of insects, exquisitely drawn and coloured, the delightful amusement of his leisure hours in the schoolhouse and at home. His powers as a zoological artist were now at their height. . . . His figures are accurate reproductions, in size, colour, and form, to the minutest band and speck, of what he saw before him, the effect being gained by a laborious process of stippling with pure and brilliant pigments. It has always been acknowledged, by naturalists who have seen the originals of his coloured figures, that he has had no rival in the exactitude of his illustrations."
—Edmund Gosse, The Life of Philip Henry Gosse, 1890

"This splendid book on the 19th century naturalist and scientific artist Philip Henry Gosse is Auburn Univerisity Libraries' ceremonial 3 millionth volume. . . . The catalog is the first publication of the artist's 1838 Dallas County, Ala., sketchbook. . . . This outstanding collection of Gosse's work contains all 49 Dallas County plates presented in their original vibrant colors--the plates having never suffered the destructive treatment of the 19th century printing process. The result: An Alabama publishing treasure!"
--Art Gould, Anniston Star

“The authors’ gracefully written introductory essay nicely sets up the main attraction -- the full color plates of Entomologia Alabamensis itself. . . . Kudos to Mullen, Littleton and The University of Alabama Press for pulling off a project that will be an ornament to the coffee table of every home in this state and a source of considerable pleasure to all lovers of the natural world.”
Mobile Press-Register

Also of Interest

Letters from Alabama
Philip Henry Gosse, Edited by Gary R. Mullen and Taylor D. Littleton

Butterflies of Alabama
Paulette H. Ogard, Sara C. Bright

Ferns of Alabama
John W. Short and Daniel D. Spaulding

Nature Journal
L. J. Davenport, with a Foreword by John C. Hall