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

Nineteenth Century

The Royal Family, shown here near Balmoral Castle in 1853, joined in with the natural history craze, collecting plants that they pasted into scrapbooks during stays in Scotland and adding specimens to their museum in the Swiss Cottage at Osborne House. ©

The nineteenth century saw the publication of some of the most spectacular volumes on natural history, and works such as John James Audubon’s Birds of America, or the books of John Gould, were able to illustrate plants and animals in great detail.  

The development of new technologies began to open up the natural world to the general public. Natural history museums were established throughout Britain and around the world, as better preservation techniques allowed for specimens to be sent over very long distances without suffering significant damage or decay.  

Towards the end of the century, photography allowed people to see creatures as they were in real life. Mass industry also meant books became much more affordable, and the publication of illustrated guides sparked a natural history craze as ordinary people now had the tools and the knowledge to look for rare and elusive plants and animals themselves.