The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne by Gilbert White
The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, or just The Natural History of Selborne is a book by English naturalist and ornithologist Gilbert White. It was first published in 1789 by his brother Benjamin. It has been continuously in print since then, with nearly 300 editions up to 2007. The book was published late in White's life, compiled from a mixture of his letters to other naturalists — Thomas Pennant and Daines Barrington; a 'Naturalist's Calendar' (in the second edition) comparing phenology observations made by White and William Markwick of the first appearances in the year of different animals and plants; and observations of natural history organized more or less systematically by species and group. A second volume, less often reprinted, covered the antiquities of Selborne. Some of the letters were never posted, and were written for the book. White's Natural History was at once well received by contemporary critics and the public, and continued to be admired by a diverse range of nineteenth and twentieth century literary figures including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Carlyle, Charles Darwin, John Ruskin, Virginia Woolf, and W. H. Auden. His work has been seen as an early contribution to ecology and in particular to phenology. The book has been enjoyed for its charm and apparent simplicity, and the way that it creates a vision of pre-industrial England.