The Introduction describes the setting up of Smeathman’s collecting expedition in London in 1771, including details of his main sponsors, Dru Drury, Joseph Banks, and the Quaker physician John Fothergill. The recent and celebrated return of the Endeavour, laden with exotic naturalia, provided a dramatic instance of what a well-equipped expedition to unknown parts might achieve. The presence of Smeathman’s archive in Uppsala, Sweden, indicates his importance as one of Linnaeus’ lesser known disciples. His journals, plus his Shandyesque letters to friends and sponsors, are testimony to the collaborative dimension of knowledge-making in this period, rivalling in importance the insects, plants, and shells he sent home to Liverpool and London.
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