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The wonderful Mr Willughby - Tim Birkhead

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The wonderful Mr Willughby - the first true ornithologist
Tim Birkhead
Paperback / softback
UK Publication Date

'Birkhead has combined ingenuity and perseverance to produce an evocative portrait of a great pioneer in the scientific study of birds' Literary ReviewFrancis Willughby lived and thrived in the midst of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. Along with his Cambridge tutor John Ray, Willughby was determined to overhaul the whole of natural history and impose order on its complexity. It was exhilarating, exacting and exhausting work. Yet before Willughby and Ray could complete their monumental encyclopaedia of birds, Ornithology, Willughby died. In the centuries since, Ray's reputation has grown, obscuring that of his collaborator. Now, for the first time, Willughby's own story and genius are given the attention they deserve. Tim Birkhead celebrates how Willughby's endeavours set a standard for the way birds and natural history should be studied. Rich with glorious detail, The Wonderful Mr Willughby is a fascinating insight into a thrilling period of scientific history and a lively biography of a man who lived at its heart.

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Tim Birkhead is a professor at the University of Sheffield where he teaches animal behaviour and the history of science. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and his research has taken him all over the world in the quest to understand the lives of birds. He has written for The Independent, New Scientist, BBC Wildlife. Among his other books are Promiscuity, Great Auk Islands, The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Birds which won the McColvin medal and The Red Canary which won the Consul Cremer Prize. He is married with three children and lives in Sheffield.

In this engrossing biography of "the first true ornithologist", Birkhead takes us on imaginative journey to the time of Charles II, when there was no classification of animals, birds and plants; when men such as Willughby often endured great hardship in order to make ground-breaking discoveries
Daily Mail - Bel Mooney

Energetically pursuing his quarry, Birkhead has combined ingenuity and perseverance to produce an evocative portrait of a great pioneer in the scientific study of birds
Literary Review - Patricia Fara

Brilliantly researched - a vivid celebration of a neglected pioneer of scientific natural history
Nick Davies, author of 'Cuckoo'

A joint celebration of two of the great scientific brains of the Age of Reason . [An] engaging study'
Country Life

[A] precise and rigorously told biography . There's a quiddity about [Birkhead's] writing that follows in his subject's steps
New Statesman - Philip Hoare

Big Issue

Francis Willughby is an ideal subject for a biography . An entertaining and informative book, packed with well-explained scientific detail
Spectator - Sam Leith

The story of Willughby's short life, elegantly and engagingly told by Tim Birkhead
London Review of Books - Francis Gooding

Enthralling ... Tim Birkhead's careful sleuthing uncovers the remarkable story of an ingenious gentleman-scholar living at the dawn of the scientific revolution
Matt Ridley, author of 'The Evolution of Everything'

If you ever thought the history of natural history might be dull, this wonderful book, a masterpiece of biographical sleuthing, will quickly dispel that illusion . The author's passion for his subjects, both human and avian, shine through as he brings history to life and relates past to present
BBC Wildlife - Jonathan Elphick

Magnificent: science without any high falutin' technology
Praise for 'The Most Perfect Thing', David Attenborough

Brilliant. It's so wonderful when you come across a book on a subject you are not naturally drawn to and you're completely engaged by it
Praise for 'The Most Perfect Thing', Bill Bryson

Full of wonder and surprise and beautifully written
Praise for 'The Most Perfect Thing', Nick Davies, author of 'Cuckoo'

Birkhead's approach to writing - hard, clear sentences; deep, revelatory looking - has the same effect as his microscope, bringing objects to light that were previously hidden, making us see the familiar with new eyes . After reading The Most Perfect Thing, you'll never dip your morning soldiers without a shiver of wonder at the complexity and resgourcefulness of the humble egg
Observer - Praise for 'The Most Perfect Thing', Alex Preston

Keyword Index
Ornithologists - Great Britain - Biography.
Country of Publication
Number of Pages
xii, 353 , 24 unnumbered of plates

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