WATERCOLOURS BY DARWIN’S FRIEND
A Fine Watercolour Album of Fungi. 1848-61
A collection of sixty numbered leaves with watercolours of fungi on rectos (plus one loosely inserted), some folding, many of the drawings annotated in pencil, with botanical names and places, chiefly Worcestershire (e.g. Nunnery Wood, The Holt, Henwick), several dated 1861 and one dated 1848. Pencil inscription above 'James Buckman 1814-1884', sheet size approximately 25.5 x 6.75cm (10 x 17ins), contemporary half calf gilt, spine label gilt lettered 'Fungi J. Buckman', large 8vo.
James Buckman, friend of Charles Darwin, was professor of geology, botany and zoology at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester from 1848 to 1863. He founded the college's botanical garden, and conducted a number of important botanical experiments, some of which were mentioned in Darwin's 'Origin of Species'. Buckman is also cited in Darwin’s Variations. He regularly corresponded with Darwin and is also cited in his published letters. He later edited various editions of Darwin’s works.
James Buckman was also a friend of botanist Edwin Lees (1800-1887) who, with Buckman's encouragement, founded the Worcestershire Naturalists' Club. Lees proposed that the club compile a much-needed flora of the county, which was eventually published as 'The Botany of Worcestershire', and it was his suggestion that the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club initiated in 1868 the annual fungus forays in Herefordshire for which it became nationally famous.