Worlds of Paper Writing Natural History from Gessner to Darwin

A Linnean Society of London meeting supported by the Wellcome Trust and the British Academy

This international conference aims to bring scholars together to discuss how practices of processing written information have shaped conceptions of the natural world in the past. From the sixteenth century until well into the nineteenth century, naturalists strove to collect, observe and classify animals, plants and minerals, often with their medical and economical use in mind. The printing “revolution” and the discovery of America profoundly transformed literacy and scholarly practices of reading and writing. The day‐to‐day practices of assembling information on natural objects and their medical properties can be glimpsed through the numerous marginalia, commonplace books, notebooks, files and index cards that naturalists, physicians, and apothecaries have left to us. The conference will investigate how these practices acted as powerful tools which changed conceptions of the order of nature. Early modern writing practices ultimately influenced taxonomical procedures, the developing idea of relationships within nature, and, in the long run, concepts of biodiversity and bioprospecting.

For more information about the conference, details of accommodation and directions to the Linnean Society, please contact:

Events, The Linnean Society of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BF Tel.: +44 (0)20 7434 4479 Fax: +44 (0)20 7287 9364 Email:

For registration please visit and visit our upcoming events page to download your registration form.

Charity Reference No. 220509