Sex, Botany and Empire: Patricia Fara

The great south sea caterpillar, transform'd into a Bath butterfly

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Patricia Fara introduces the botanist aboard James Cook's Endeavour

When James Cook returned from his first voyage to Australia, scandal writers mercilessly satirised the amorous exploits of his botanist Joseph Banks, whose trousers were reportedly stolen while he was inside the tent of Queen Oberea of Tahiti. 

But what was Joseph Banks really like? What did he contribute to scientific research in his day? And what motivated him and his research?

Patricia Fara, author of Sex, Botany and Empire: The Story of Carl Linnaeus and Joseph Banks tells the story of Banks, who ruled over his own small scientific empire, promoting botanical exploration to justify the exploitation of territories, peoples and natural resources.

In this lecture, Patricia Fara reveals the existence, barely concealed under the camouflage of noble Enlightenment, of the altogether more seedy drives to conquer, subdue and deflower in the name of the British Imperial state.

Patricia Fara is a Fellow of Clare College Cambridge, President of the British Society for the History of Science, and a regular contributor to In Our Time. Her books include Sex, Botany and Empire: The Story of Carl Linnaeus and Joseph Banks as well as her prize-winning Science: A Four Thousand Year History and her recent A Lab of One’s Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War.


Name: Sex, Botany and Empire: Patricia Fara
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £8.00
Member: £8.00
Senior 60+: £6.00
Student: £5.00
Registered Unemployed: £5.00
Under 18: £5.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546