John Gould.A synopsis of the birds of Australia, and the adjacent islands. London, 1837-38.
John Gould (1804–1881), ornithologist and publisher, was a pioneer naturalist of Australia and a much respected scientist. When Charles Darwin returned from his voyage on HMS Beagle in the autumn of 1836 he selected Gould to describe his collection of birds. In January 1837 Gould pronounced a group of twelve birds from the Galápagos Islands, which Darwin had thought to be ‘blackbirds, warblers, wrens and finches’, as all one family of finches, with variations in their beaks and size. This was the crucial piece of evidence that enabled Darwin to come to his theory of island speciation. The present work contains hand-coloured lithographs and is bound in the original paper covers in which it was issued. It is inscribed by the author. Edward Lear (artist and writer of The Owl and the Pussycat) drew eighty or so plates for three of Gould's early works.