Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sparrman was the son of a clergyman. At the age of nine he enrolled at Uppsala University, beginning medical studies at fourteen and becoming one of the outstanding pupils of Linnaeus. In 1765 he went on a voyage to China as ship's doctor, returning two years later and describing the animals and plants he had encountered.
He sailed for the Cape of Good Hope in January 1772 to take up a post as a tutor. When James Cook arrived there later in the year at the start of his second voyage, Sparrman was taken on as assistant naturalist to Johann and Georg Forster. After the voyage he returned to Cape Town in July 1775 and practiced medicine, earning enough to finance a journey into the interior.
In 1776 he returned to Sweden, where he had been awarded an honorary doctorate in his absence. He was also elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He was appointed keeper of the natural historical collections of the Academy of Sciences in 1780, Professor of natural history and pharmacology in 1781 and assessor of the Collegium Medicum in 1790. In 1787 he took part in an expedition to West Africa, but this was not successful.
Sparrman published several works, the best known of which is his account of his travels in South Africa and with Cook, published in English as A voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, towards the Antarctic polar circle, and round the world: But chiefly into the country of the Hottentots and Caffres, from the year 1772 to 1776 (1789). He also published a Catalogue of the Museum Carlsonianum (1786-89), and an Ornithology of Sweden (1806).
- Walters, M., 2003, A Concise History of Ornithology, Yale University Press. ISBN 0300090730
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