In 1712, Mark Catesby (1683-1749), a 29-year old Englishman with an enigmatic past and an insatiable curiosity for the wondrous serendipity of nature, set sail on a three-month voyage to the colony of Virginia [the Lowcountry of South Carolina]. Much of his sojourn in the New World was taken under the auspices of the Royal Society of London. Catesby was to spend much of the next fourteen years exploring the natural habitat of the southeast colonies and the Bahamas, and the subsequent 20 years writing and illustrating his two-volume Natural History of Carolina, Florida and The Bahama Islands.
This celebration is being organized by the Catesby Commemorative Trust - you can view their website at www.catesbytrust.org for general background, with SHNH as a co-sponsor. Others involved include the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, US Botanic Garden, Wilton House Museum in Richmond, College of Charleston, Gibbes Museum, Charleston Library Society, Middleton Place Foundation and the Preservation Society of Charleston.
The program will include a broad array of speakers on diverse subjects with a connection to Mark Catesby as well as related art exhibits, colonial-era garden tours, and expeditions into areas of South Carolina little changed since Catesby was there. Among the speakers who have agreed to participate are several who have been active in our Society and its affairs , including Judith Magee at the Natural History Museum; Amy Meyers at the Yale Center for British Art; Leslie Overstreet at the Smithsonian; Florence Pieters at the University of Amsterdam, Henrietta McBurney Ryan at Eton College; and James Reveal at Cornell.
More information will be provided on the SHNH website as details are confirmed.