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Although without formal scientific training, Henry John Elwes (1846–1922) devoted his life to natural history. He had studied birds, butterflies and moths, but later turned his attention to collecting and growing plants. Embarking on his most ambitious project in 1903, he recruited the Irish dendrologist Augustine Henry (1857–1930) to collaborate with him on this well-illustrated work. Privately printed in seven volumes between 1906 and 1913, it covers the varieties, distribution, history and cultivation of tree species in the British Isles. The strictly botanical parts were written by Henry, while Elwes drew on his extensive knowledge of native and non-native species to give details of where remarkable examples could be found. Each volume contains photographic plates as well as drawings of leaves and buds to aid identification. The species covered in Volume 1 (1906) include beech, spruce and yew.