Joseph Dalton Hooker. The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya, Being an Account, Botanical and Geographical, of the Rhododendrons Recently Discovered in the Mountains of Eastern Himalaya, from Drawings and Descriptions Made on the Spot, during a Government Botanical Mission to that Country. London: Reeve, Benham, and Reeve, 1849. Gift of Ethelinda Schaefer Castle ’08.

 

     
 

Flower



 
 

Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) was a British botanist, explorer, and good friend of Charles Darwin. His father, William Jackson Hooker, was the director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Due to his father’s high position within the scientific community, Joseph Hooker was able to receive sponsorship for his journeys and writing. Between 1847 and 1851 Hooker traveled to India and the Himalayas as the first European to collect plants in this region. Although he was based in Darjeeling, Hooker particularly wanted to visit the Himalayan region of Sikkim, which was at the time not a part of India, and therefore difficult to access. In 1849 Hooker finally entered Sikkim, but was subsequently imprisoned due to his deliberate disregard of the warning to not cross the border into Tibet. He was released after a few weeks and  spent the remainder of his time in India in the area around Darjeeling, where he wrote his journals and replaced lost specimens. Rhododendrons of Sikkim Himalaya, published between 1849 and 1851, was based on the nearly seven thousand species he gathered on this trip. In total, Hooker introduced twenty-five new rhododendron species to the fifty which were already known in Europe. In 1865 Hooker succeeded his father as Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, a position which he held for twenty years. He received much public acclaim for his work, and was recognized as being responsible for the addition of many foreign plant specimens to the Kew Gardens.


While traveling to Antarctica between 1839 and 1843, Hooker read proofs of Voyage of the Beagle, and admired Darwin’s skill as a naturalist. Upon his return to England, he was befriended by Darwin, who asked Hooker to assist in the classification of plants collected on the Beagle journey. Hooker became an adamant supporter of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, and helped to arrange the co-publication of the theory with Alfred Russel Wallace. Hooker dedicated his Himalayan Journals, published in 1854, to Darwin, and Darwin acknowledged Hooker’s help in On the Origin of Species. In his autobiography, Darwin described Hooker as “…one of my best friends throughout life.”

 

Back                     Next

 

Home

Bryn Mawr College Special Collections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Rhododendron