Among the Indians of Guiana: being sketches, chiefly anthropologic from the interior of British Guiana, etc

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Author: Im Thurn, Everard Ferdinand (1852-1932)

Year: 1883

Publisher: Kegan Paul, Trench & Company

Place: London


xvi+445+[32 ad] pages with 10 plates including colored frontispiece, 43 figures, fold out map and index. Octavo (8 3/4" x 6") bound in original publisher's pictorial red cloth with gilt lettering to spine and front cover, beveled edges. First edition.

Anthropologist, botanist and colonial administrator Sir Everard im Thurn is credited with leading the first expedition to reach the summit of Mount Roraima, Venezuela. He is also known for his account Among the Indians of Guiana (1883). On the recommendation of Sir Joseph Hooker, Im Thurn was then appointed curator of the museum in Georgetown, British Guiana (Guyana). He served in this position from 1877-1882, during which time he occasionally sent plants to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He then became a magistrate at Pomeroon. Around this time, Joseph Hooker read an account of the bird-life of Mount Roraima by ornithologist Henry Whitely, who had visited the area in the border region of Guyana and Venezuela in 1883. Inspired by descriptions of its rich natural history, Hooker implored Im Thurn to explore Roraima further. Im Thurn thus led the first successful expedition to the plateau of Roraima in 1884. Accompanied by surveyor Harry Perkins and a team of indigenous assistants, Im Thurn cut through swathes of dense forest thought impassable by previous explorers. On reaching Roraima's steep cliff face, the team surmounted the formidable barrier by means of slippery ledges and boulders wrapped in spongy moss. Circumnavigating a waterfall, they succeeded where none had before, ascending to the summit of the highest table mountain, or tepui, in the region. The triumph was described in Nature as the "cherished object of botanical exploration in South America for the last quarter of a century", and held the public imagination for years to come. Im Thurn published his account of the journey in the journal of the Royal Geographical Society and in his own Guianan scientific journal, Timehri. His factual description of the wild landscape of sandstone rock formations, marshes and waterfalls was eclipsed, however, by the fictional work it inspired, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, an adventure story in a land of living fossils. In addition, a thick mist that enveloped the party on their final ascent prevented much specimen collecting, so it was up to followers such as J.J. Quelch and F. McConnelly, who took the path thereafter named for Im Thurn, to carry out more scientific investigation of Roraima. Among Im Thurn's botanical specimens from Roraima, scientists at Kew Gardens nevertheless identified 53 new species and three new genera.


Rebacked, original boards, new end papers and paste downs, tissue separated at frontispiece else a better than very good copy.

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