World Book Day

Some of the earliest books were about the natural world – illustrations of birds, plants and exotic animals were popular.

They were also important reference works as many scientists couldn’t travel easily. They would rely on detailed drawings and descriptions to make comparisons.

For World Book Day, we’ve picked a few of our favorite book covers and illustrations to celebrate.

Click on any image for more information.
The floral kingdom: its history, sentiment and poetry, by Cordelia Harris Turner, 1876.
The birds of America: from drawings made in the United States and their territories by John James Audubon, 1840
Flora Graeca, sive, Plantarum rariorum historia, quas in provinciis aut insulis Graeciae by John Sibthorp, 1806

Les fleurs animées. [Illustrated frontis piece], 1847. NYPL

The ‘Look About You’ Nature Study Books, Book 4 [of 7] by Thomas Hoare, date unknown.

Zoological sketches by Joseph Wolf, 1861.
Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada by Charles Francis Saunders, 1920
Our Field and Forest Trees by Maud Going, 1916
The Birds of Australia by Gregory M. Mathews, 1910.
Moths and Butterflies by Mary C. Dickerson, 1901.
Fishing tackle, its materials and manufacture : a practical guide to the best modes and methods of making every kind of appliance necessary for taking freshwater fish, and for the equipment of the angler and fly-fisher. With two hundred and fifty-four illustrations and explanatory diagrams.
by John Harrington Keene, 1886