Preparing for Sumatra: John Lindley in London

While researching John Lindley, I stumbled upon an adorable story about him.

John arrived in England when he was a teenager. Naturally, he needed a place to stay, so Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker graciously took him in and gave him a room at his home called Halesworth.

The story goes that, over a few weeks, the Halesworth housekeeper had observed that John‘s bed was always neat as a pin. It was clear he never slept in it.

Naturally, the housekeeper began to wonder what John was doing, and she started to worry that he might not be the kind of person they wanted living at Halesworth.

Eventually, she brought the matter to Sir Joseph's attention. The news was alarming, and Sir Joseph confronted John straightaway and asked him to account for his unused bed.

John calmly explained he planned to go to Sumatra to collect plants at some point in the future. Anticipating the physical difficulties of the trip, he decided to sleep on the hardwood floor to condition himself.

Of course, with such a bright explanation, John got to keep living at Halesworth.

He wrote his first book there called Observations on the Structure of Fruits.

John Lindley accomplished many botanical endeavors during his long life but never made it to Sumatra.

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John Lindley as a young botanist
John Lindley as a young botanist
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Observations on the Structure of Fruits by John Lindley
Observations on the Structure of Fruits by John Lindley

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