There are the three great names in 19th Century biology. Charles Darwin, Alfred Wallace and Henry Walter Bates and yet the only full biography of Bates was written in 1969. This woeful void is remedied by Anthony Crawforth. Bates was a crucial figure and played an important part in helping both Darwin and Wallace complete their thinking. Batesian Mimicry, as it is still known, developed from the study of butterflies in the amazon rainforest (with Wallace) and provided important supporting evidence for Darwin. And it was Darwin who persuaded Bates to write his travel memoir The Naturalist on the River Amazons and indeed proof read the manuscript. On his travels Bates collected over 14,000 specimens of which over 8,000 were at the time new to science. He later went on to become the administrator for the Royal Geographical Society and transformed the society to one which combined exploration with academic research and was responsible for placing geography on the school curriculum. This is a long overdue book that reassesses Bates's life and work and finally places both the man and his work in their rightful place alongside the other greats.
The Butterfly Hunter
University of Buckingham Press, The