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(BUNBURY, Charles James Fox.) BUNBURY, Frances Joanna (ed.)

Life, Letters and Journals of Sir Charles J. F. Bunbury, Bart.

Edited by his wife.

London: [Printed for private circulation by] Women's Printing Society, Limited, 1894 Stock Code: 123689
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A supporter and correspondent of Charles Darwin

First and sole edition of this highly uncommon memoir of the distinguished palaeobotanist Sir Charles James Fox Bunbury, eighth baronet (18091886), printed for private circulation among friends and relatives only. It includes a generous gathering of his letters and substantial selections from his journals, of which ODNB remarks, "few other journals provide such an intimate view of mid-Victorian natural history". The editor was his widow, the highly accomplished and well-travelled Frances Joanna Horner (1814-1894). Printing was carried out by the Women's Printing Society, founded in the mid-1870s by Emma Paterson and Emily Faithfull, incorporated as a cooperative in 1878; it was responsible for publishing the reports of the Central Committee for the National Society for Women's Suffrage, as well as early issues of the Women's Penny Paper.

Bunbury was a sickly child and visited many spas and seaside resorts for medical treatment, becoming "very attached to botany" (ODNB). Encouraged by both parents "he acquired markedly cultivated and varied tastes, and while still very young was introduced to some of the best-known experts in these fields" (ibid.). As his health improved "his father let him travel to Brazil, via Madeira, to work with his uncle Fox, who was minister in Rio de Janeiro. Bunbury lived there from 1833 to 1835, collecting plants and making notes on natural history. On his return he joined the Holland House circle and attended London's scientific societies, primarily the Linnean and Geological, where his accomplishments and remarkable memory stood him in good stead. With no need to work for a living, he pursued a gentleman's scientific and artistic occupations... A turning point came, however, with Bunbury's connection (in quick succession) with the geologist Charles Lyell (17971875), followed by Lyell's friend and father-in-law, Leonard Horner (17851864), and then Horner's unmarried daughter, Frances see below, a keen botanist and linguist. Bunbury worked with increasing purpose in geology, becoming close friends with Lyell and others in the Geological Society, and specializing in fossil botany. He identified several of Lyell's coal deposit specimens and catalogued the Carboniferous fossils in the Geological Society museum. His relationship with Lyell and Horner was cemented in 1844 when he married Frances, on 30 or 31 May... This close family network gave a focus to Bunbury's endeavours. His letters to Horner and Lyell, and to others such as Charles Darwin, and the copious journal he began to keep at about this time, are full of detail about scientific societies, natural history excursions in Europe, the people he and Frances met, and the life they led in London and Suffolk. He enjoyed art exhibitions, visited historical sites and antiquities with enthusiasm, travelled, collected, and read widely. As well as this, he possessed an eager, enquiring mind that allowed him to accept Darwin's theory of evolution with equanimity, although he was a staunch, church-attending Anglican" (ibid.). Freeman notes that Bunbury "encouraged Darwin in persevering on the species problem".

Scarce, with Just two sets located among British and Irish institutional libraries, Library Hub citing British Library and Oxford; WorldCat adds no further locations.

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3 volumes, octavo. Original deep red vertically combed cloth, titles in gilt on black painted spine labels within single gilt fillet, single fillet panels in blind to the boards, dark brown-coated endpapers.


Photographically reproduced mounted frontispiece to each volume (portrait of Bunbury after Eddis, views of the Manor House, Mildenhall, and Barton Hall, Suffolk).


Spines lightly sunned, professional refurbishment to spine ends and inner hinges, volumes I and II without tissue-guards to frontispieces, scattered foxing to preliminary and terninal leaves, a very good set.


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