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Natural history and antiquities of Selborne

Engraved plate showing a bird identified by Gilbert White as a stilt ploverEngraved plate showing a bird identified by Gilbert White as a stilt ploverThe classic work of natural history writing featured here, by Gilbert White (1720-93) was first published by his brother, Benjamin White (c1725-94).

Benjamin White was based at Horace’s Head, 63 Fleet Street (at the junction of Fleet Street and the Strand). Benjamin edited and published his brother’s work, and also introduced Gilbert to Daines Barrington and Thomas Pennant, to whom the letters featured throughout The natural history … were addressed.

At Horace’s Head, Benjamin published a range of fine books, with his establishment gaining particular renown for its speciality in natural history publications. It became known as London’s premier shop for volumes on natural history and developed into a meeting place for naturalists.

The image shown here is from a first edition and was printed by Thomas Bensley (1760-1835), who was based near Fetter Lane at Bolt Court, Fleet Street. The natural history … was one of the first works printed by Bensley, who became a prominent printer renowned for producing fine work.

Bensley printed many elegant books throughout his career for more than 45 London publishers. He embraced innovations in printing, supporting the development of the first steam-driven printing press financially and technically.

The image shows an engraved plate of a bird which Gilbert White identified as a stilt plover. An imprint at the bottom of the plate identifies it as being published by ‘B White and Son’.

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