Emperors, Admirals and Chimney-Sweepers by Peter Marren

The first ever comprehensive book about the naming of British butterflies and moths.

This beautiful book, written with Peter Marren’s usual wit and insight, takes you on a journey back to a time before the arts and science were divided. When entomologists were also poets and painters, and when a gift for vivid language went hand-in-hand with a deep pre-Darwinian fascination for the emerging natural world.

Hardback, 282 pages, illustrated throughout, jacket artwork by Bea Forshall.

Published  May 2019. Orders will be sent out on publication.

Illustrated throughout. Hardback.

SKU: EMPERORS Categories: , ,

£30.00

Available on back-order

Many have remarked on the poetic names of our butterflies and moths.  Their beauty fires our imaginations. Some are named after human occupations and social rank: Emperors, footmen, a miller, quakers, lackeys, ‘rustics’ and chimney-sweepers. Still more are named after animals: tigers, hawks, goats, sharks, even pug dogs. There are species named after jewels, musical instruments, fabrics, letters, carpets, flowers, heraldry and shells. Some names are downright baffling. Why was one butterfly called an ‘admiral’ and another an ‘argus’? Why, for that matter, are they called ‘butterflies’?

The scientific names too contain many allusions. One whole subset of moths is named after weddings. Another group is named after souls. A great many are cherry-picked from classical legends and tales. Some names are spooky, even sexy. Or funny, for Latin names contain word games and jokes.

There has never been an accessible and comprehensive guide to the names of our butterflies and moths, both English and and Latin. This beautiful book, written with Peter Marren’s usual wit and insight, takes you on a journey back to a time before the arts and science were divided. When entomologists were also poets and painters, and when a gift for vivid language went hand-in-hand with a deep pre-Darwinian fascination for the emerging natural world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Peter Marren has written widely on the natural world and our association with it. Among some twenty books, he is the author of Rainbow Dust, Bugs Britannica, The New Naturalists which won the Thackray Medal, as well as contributions to Collins New Naturalist, the British Wildlife Collection and Poyser Natural History, He writes regularly for British Wildlife and Butterfly magazine and is a former columnist in The Countryman. For fourteen years he worked for the Nature Conservancy Council in Scotland and England. He lives in Ramsbury in Wiltshire.

Hardback, 282 pages, illustrated throughout, jacket artwork by Bea Forshall.

Published May 2019

Additional information

Weight600 g
Dimensions170 × 217 mm

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