John Gould: Bird Illustration in the Age of Darwin

John Gould (1804-1881) contributed to burgeoning scientific and popular interest in the natural world in Victorian England as an ornithologist, collector, and illustrator and publisher of bird books. He assisted Charles Darwin with classification of bird specimens collected during the H.M.S. Beagle’s visit to the Galapagos Islands in 1835. Gould and his artist wife, Elizabeth (1804-1841) traveled to Australia in 1838. Two years engaged in pioneering studies of Australian wildlife resulted in the seven-volume Birds of Australia (1840-1848) and three-volume Mammals of Australia (1845-1863). Partnering with other illustrators after his wife’s death, Gould published a dozen folio-size books about birds of the world.

This collection of ornithological books and several thousand preliminary drawings, paintings and proofs bequeathed by Ralph Nicholson Ellis, Jr to the University of Kansas are held in the University of Kansas Libraries’ Kenneth Spencer Research Library. This web exhibition, and the digitization of the Gould Collection, has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.