• John Stevens Henslow(1796–1861)
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John Stevens Henslow

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Professor John Stevens Henslow was just 29 years old when he took over the Professorship of Botany at Cambridge University. He wanted to expand the role of the Physic Garden to serve not merely medical research, but academic study of the plant species themselves. Specifically he was interested in the displaying and cultivating of the many new species of trees which at the time were being introduced from the four corners of the world, and particularly from Western North America.

John Stevens Henslow was born in 1796 in the English county of Kent. His childhood education led to him studying science in Cambridge at St John's College, where he graduated in 1818. Like so many scientifically inclined individuals he took a keen interest in all disciplines of science, even including mathematics and chemistry, and he acquired as much knowledge as he could. His considerable expertise in geology led to him accepting the chair as Professor of Mineralogy at the University in 1822. However, another subject - the study of plants - was increasingly fascinating Henslow, and just three years later he took up another post as Professor of Botany. This was to become very much his chosen branch of science and his interests in the field included the study of variation in species, an interest which no doubt he helped to instill in at least one of his brightest students (see 'Henslow's Protégé)

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John Stevens Henslow | Barnes & Noble

John Stevens Henslow (1796-1861) was a botanist and geologist. As teacher, mentor and friend to Charles Darwin, it was his introduction that secured for Darwin the post of naturalist on the voyage of the Beagle. While Professor of Botany, Henslow established the Cambridge University Botanic Garden as a resource for teaching and research. Students were encouraged to examine plant specimens carefully, and to record the characteristics of their structures. Henslow would have known how daunting they found the task of becoming proficient with botanical vocabulary, and produced this volume to provide a secure foundation for scientific investigations. This meticulous glossary, originally published as a single volume in 1857 but drawing on contributions he made earlier to issues of The Botanist and Maund's Botanic Garden, is a testament to Henslow's scholarship. It is liberally illustrated with delightful woodcuts that clarify the meaning of selected terms.