Charles Darwin reaches 200 years old on February 12 (as does Abraham Lincoln–see the current issue of Smithsonian magazine for interesting articles on each man and one, by Adam Gopnik, bringing them together). In celebration of Darwin’s birthday, a new display on the 2nd floor of the library features books from Special Collections by scientists who came before Darwin (okay, we don’t own any early editions of books by Darwin himself), such as Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist and explorer, who created a uniform system of scientific naming called binomial nomenclature; Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), a celebrated wood engraver whose book The History of British Birds (on display) was read by Jane Eyre; and Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654), an English physician whose Herbal (on display) was a bestseller.
You might wonder why there is a piece of Wedgewood ceramic in the display case. Ask Kevin Geedey. Speaking of Dr. Geedey, there’s another surprise in the display–the 2009 World Book annual “Science Year” which includes an article by Dr. Geedey, entitled, guess what, “The 150-Year Legacy of Charles Darwin & On the Origin of Species.” Not only is it Darwin’s birthday, it’s the 150th birthday of the publication of his famous book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Congratulations, Dr. Geedey. –Margi Rogal