ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Sir James Edward Smith (1759-1828), English botanist and founder of the Linnean Society. Smith was born in Norwich into a wealthy merchant family. He studied medicine at Edinburgh before moving to London in 1783. He was a friend of Joseph Banks, who had been offered the collected books, manuscripts and specimens of Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist. Banks declined but Smith found the money, £1000, and in 1786 Smith was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. For the next two years Smith travelled on the Grand Tour of Europe, collecting and observing along the way. On his return in 1788 he began writing up his researches and in the following 30 years he authored thousands of articles and dozens of books.
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