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Edwin Rose completed his PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science Department at the University of Cambridge in 2020 with a thesis entitled ‘Managing Nature in the Age of Enlightenment: The Practice of Natural History in Britain, 1760–1820’. This examined approaches to managing information compiled from printed books, physical specimens and manuscripts in British natural history collecting by concentrating on the networks administered by Joseph Banks (1743–1820), who travelled with James Cook to the Pacific, Thomas Pennant (1726–98), a pioneering zoologist famed for travelling across Scotland and authoring British Zoology and Gilbert White (1722–93), who authored the Natural History of Selborne (1789). This research surveys naturalists’ use of books in the field; the use of natural history collections to produce publications and the use of these to generate natural knowledge on a global scale.

Current Project: Empire, Nature and the Book in Eighteenth-Century Cambridge

Building on his previous research, Edwin’s project as Munby Fellow reconstructs and analyses the large collection of books and specimens compiled by John Martyn (1699–1768) and Thomas Martyn (1735–1825), successive Professors of Botany at the University of Cambridge, many of which have since been incorporated into the collection of the University Library.

Examining the Martyns’ teaching programme, development of the Cambridge Botanical Garden, publication programme and global network that extended from Tasmania to the West Indies, this project revises the current view that this was an age of stagnation. Many annotated books link with the Martyns’ surviving herbarium, objects with provenances that intertwine the story of Cambridge botany with far flung colonial knowledge transfer systems, networks of global trade,  enslaved peoples, and specimen exchange.

Update May 2023. An article arising from Edwin's Munby Fellowship research has just been published: "Empire and the Theology of Nature in the Cambridge Botanic Garden, 1760-1825", Journal of British Studies, 2023. DOI:

Contact: edr24.[at]

Other Websites:;

Twitter: @Edwinrose3

Key Publications

Peer Reviewed Articles

'Publishing Nature in an Age of Revolutions: Joseph Banks, Georg Forster and the Plants of the Pacific', Historical Journal (published online 14 April, 2020).

'From the South Seas to Soho Square: Joseph Banks's Library, Collection and Kingdom of Natural History', Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science, 73:4 (2019), pp.499-526. (Part of a special issue entitled 'Rethinking Joseph Banks').

'Gilbert White, John Ray and the Construction of the Natural History of Selborne', Archives of Natural History 46.1 (2019), pp. 105-112.

'Lives and Afterlives of the Lithophylacii Britannici ichnographia (1699), the First Illustrated Field Guide to English Fossils', Nuncius: Journal of the Material and Visual History of Science, 33 (2018), pp. 505-536 (co-authored with Prof. Anna Marie Roos).

'Specimens, Slips and Systems: Daniel Solander and the classification of nature at the world's first public museum, 1753-1768', The British Journal for the History of Science, 52: 2 (2018), pp. 205-237.

'Natural history collections and the book: Hans Sloane's A Voyage to Jamaica (1707-25) and his Jamaican plants', Journal of the History of Collections, 30: 1 (2018), pp. 15-33.


'Cook's Voyages to the Pacific after 250 years. Exhibition review of James Cook: The Voyages, at the British Library, London, April-August 2018. British Library, London', Endeavour, 42 (2018), pp. 204–205.

'James Delbourgo, Collecting the World: The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane (London: Allen Lane, 2017)', The British Journal for the History of Science, 50 (2017), pp. 731–732.

Exhibitions, Talks and Public Engagement (selected)

‘Botany in 18th-Century Cambridge: A First Look Inside the Martyn Collection’, recorded talk and show and tell of original materials, with Lauren M. Gardiner (Cambridge University Herbarium), 31 March 2020.

'The Roots of Disorder: Botany Became an Unlikely Battlefield in the Age of Revolution', History Today, 70:6 (2020), pp. 70–83.

Podcast: ‘Pacific Exploration, Botany, and Revolution’ for Time to Eat the Dogs: A Podcast About Science, History and Exploration. Interviewed by Michael Robinson (University of Hertford, CN.), 5 May 2020.

'Applying Structure to the South Sea: Joseph Banks, Daniel Solander and the Practice of Natural History on the Endeavour Voyage to the Pacific, 1768-1771', Encounters and Exchanges Conference, University of Otago, New Zealand, 3 December 2019.

Blog Post for Cambridge University Library: 'Before Endeavour: Joseph Banks and his travels in England and Wales', Cambridge University Library Special Collections Blog, 22 February, 2019.

'An age of Discoveries: 250 Years since the Endeavour Voyage to the Pacific', Cambridge University Library, Cambridge, 28 August - 29 September 2018.

'From Specimen to Print: Constructing and Publishing Thomas Pennant's British Zoology, 1766–1812', Linnean Society of London, 16 November 2018.

'Publishing, Printing and Circulating Books Across the Botanical World of Joseph Banks', History of Science Society Annual Conference, Seattle, 3 November 2018.

Other Professional Affiliations and Activities (selected)

Visiting Fellow at Yale University’s Lewis Walpole Library (delayed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic).

Member of the Royal Historical Society (elected in July 2019).

Visiting Fellow, Harvard University History of Science Department, October 2018.

Affiliate of the Natural History Museum, London, 2016–2020.

Convener for the Cabinet of Natural History Research Seminar, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, 2016-2017


Munby Application details

The Fellowship is normally advertised each December for a post beginning in October the following year. Applications are currently being sought for the 2023-24 Munby Fellowship. The closing date is 22 January 2023.