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First published in 1840 as a volume in the Cabinet Cyclopaedia - a series published between 1830 and 1844, intended for the self-educating middle class - this work was written by the naturalist and artist William Swainson (1789–1855). The first part is a treatise on taxidermy, showcasing methods of Victorian science that may appear gruesome to modern readers. It discusses the best ways to collect, preserve and present animals for scientific study. Swainson gives detailed advice, making allowances for naturalists working in different locations and searching for a range of species. The directions for skinning and mounting animals are not for the faint-hearted, but they offer a fascinating insight into the practices of the time. The work's second part is a zoological bibliography, with short biographies of notable authors. Zoological painters and engravers, such as Thomas Bewick (1753–1828), are also featured.
Sir John Richardson (1787–1865), surgeon, naturalist and Arctic explorer, went on Sir John Franklin's first two Arctic expeditions as ship's doctor and naturalist, and made observations and collected a large number of plant and animal specimens from the Canadian Arctic. On his return to England after the second expedition he began to write this four-volume work of natural history, first published between 1829 and 1837. A volume is dedicated to each of the classes of mammal, bird, fish and insect, which are found in the Canadian Arctic. This work is an interesting example of pre-Darwinian natural history, full of detailed descriptions of the appearance, anatomy and behaviour of the different species. Volume 4 was first published in 1837 and was written by distinguished entomologist William Kirby (1759–1850) using Richardson's specimens from the second expedition. It focuses on the species of insect found in the Canadian Arctic.