New Book | Collecting the World: Hans Sloane

Posted in books, lectures (to attend) by Editor on May 12, 2017

From the Royal College of Physicians:

James Delbourgo, The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane
Royal College of Physicians, London, 7 June 2017

This lecture by Professor James Delbourgo explores the astonishing story of Sir Hans Sloane, a young Irish doctor who became one of the greatest physicians, collectors, and figures of the eighteenth century. Wednesday, 7 June 2017, 18:00–20:00. Please note that places for this free event are extremely limited and advance booking is essential. For additional details, please see the Royal College of Physicians website.

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From Harvard UP:

James Delbourgo, Collecting the World: Hans Sloane and the Origins of the British Museum (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2017), 544 pages, ISBN 978  06747  37334, $35 / £28 / €32.

In 1759 the British Museum opened its doors to the general public—the first free national museum in the world. James Delbourgo’s biography of Hans Sloane recounts the story behind its creation, told through the life of a figure with an insatiable ambition to pit universal knowledge against superstition and the means to realize his dream.

Born in northern Ireland in 1660, Sloane amassed a fortune as a London society physician, becoming a member of the Whig establishment and president of the Royal Society and Royal College of Physicians. His wealth and contacts enabled him to assemble an encyclopedic collection of specimens and objects—the most famous cabinet of curiosities of its time. For Sloane, however, collecting a world of objects meant collecting a world of people, including slaves. His marriage to the heir of sugar plantations in Jamaica gave Sloane access to the experiences of planters and the folkways of their human property. With few curbs on his passion for collecting, he established a network of agents to supply artifacts from China, India, North America, the Caribbean, and beyond. Wampum beads, rare manuscripts, a shoe made from human skin—nothing was off limits to Sloane’s imagination. This splendidly illustrated volume offers a new perspective on the entanglements of global scientific discovery with imperialism in the eighteenth century. The first biography of Sloane based on the full range of his writings and collections, Collecting the World tells the rich and complex story of one of the Enlightenment’s most controversial luminaries.

James Delbourgo is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University.

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List of Illustrations
List of Maps

Introduction: The Original Sloane Ranger

I. Empire of Curiosities
1  Transplantation
2  Island of Curiosities
3  Keeping the Species from Being Lost

II. Assembling The World
4  Becoming Hans Sloane
5  The World Comes to Bloomsbury
6  Putting the World in Order
7  Creating the Public’s Museum

Conclusion: The Man Who Collected the World






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