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Written in a Tropical Glow: Books, Prints, and Manuscripts Describing the Biological Exploration of the New World Tropics


Southern Methodist University - DeGolyer Library

Exhibition opening 9/27, 6 p.m.; guest lecture, 6:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. An accompanying book and catalog is available for purchase. DeGolyer Library is open M-F, 8:30-5 p.m.

Where were you, what were you doing, on your 23rd birthday? Charles Darwin was crossing the Atlantic, on H.M.S. Beagle, so eager to explore the New World tropics that he declared himself filled with “a tropical glow.” When he arrived, in 1832, he was but the latest in a long line of young naturalists who had come to South America seeking adventure and discovery and such renown as science had to offer. More came soon after. “Written in a Tropical Glow” tells their stories, from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the West Indies to the intrepid English biologist who wandered alone across South America in the 1840s. Between them came botanists and zoologists from Germany, Spain, Holland, France, and Austria, most of them constellated around the remarkable scientist/explorer Alexander von Humboldt.

Their stories are told in books they wrote describing their adventures and discoveries, ranging from modest volumes to impressive folios filled with color plates of the highest quality. These books, along with related prints and manuscripts, will be exhibited at the DeGolyer Library, from September 27 to December 14, 2018.  The items exhibited are drawn mainly from the DeGolyer collections, with a few from the personal collection of the guest curator, Tom Taylor.

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