Sir William Jackson Hooker
Tour in Iceland
Today is the birthday of the great Sir William Jackson Hooker.
Hooker was both a botanist and a botanical illustrator, and he was a great friend of Joseph Banks.
Thanks to his inheritance, Hooker was wealthy; he didn't need a patron to fund his work or expeditions. Hooker's first expedition was to Iceland in the summer of 1809. The trip was actually Bank's idea. Hooker came along in order to collect specimens, as well as to try everything he discovered.
Unfortunately, during their voyage home from Iceland, there was a terrible fire. Most people don't realize it, but Hooker nearly died. Sadly, all of Hooker's work was destroyed. But it turns out, Hooker's mind was a steel trap. In a remarkable accomplishment, Hooker was able to reconstruct his discoveries and publish an account of his adventure in a book called Tour in Iceland.
Over his lifetime, Hooker established a global reputation for his world-class herbarium. By 1841, he was appointed the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Hooker elevated Kew to greatness. His leadership resulted in an expansion of the gardens from 10 to 75 acres as well as adding a 270-acre Arboretum and a museum for botany.
In 1865, there was a virus going around at Kew. Everyone had sore throats. Soon, Hooker, too, became ill. He was 80 years old. The virus overpowered him, and he died.
His son Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, and outstanding botanist in his own right succeeded him at Kew.
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