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Natural History in the Royal Library

Our changing relationship with the natural world, from Tudor to Victorian times

Nature surrounds us. Every time we step outdoors, we step into a world teeming with life: birds, mammals, insects, flowers, trees. From the earliest civilisations right through to the modern age, scientists and thinkers have sought to understand precisely how these plants and animals live.

Over the centuries, members of the Royal Family have also taken a keen interest in natural studies, with some even lending their patronage to prominent naturalists. As a result, a number of books have been presented to Royals by their authors as thanks for their support. Natural history texts from as far back as the reign of Henry VIII can be found in the Royal Library to this day.

Explore the sections below to discover some of the finest natural history books in the Royal Collection.

Before 1700

The dawn of the scientific method to the founding of the Royal Society

Eighteenth Century

George III was an avid collector of scientific books during the Age of Enlightenment

John Gould was born in Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast in 1804 but was brought up in Surrey and later Windsor, where his father was one of the gardeners at the castle. The young Gould taught himself taxidermy from an early age and soon established a skill
Nineteenth Century

Mass production and easy access to material opened the natural world to all

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.