Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Joseph Dalton Hooker
He was born in Halesworth, Suffolk and was the second son of the famous botanist Sir William Jackson Hooker. He was educated at Glasgow University, and almost immediately after taking his M.D. degree there in 1839 joined Sir James Clark Ross's Antarctic expedition, receiving a commission as assistant-surgeon on the Erebus. The botanical fruits of the three years he thus spent in the Southern Seas were the Flora Antarctica, Flora Novae Zelandiae and Flora Tasmanica, which he published on his return.
His next expedition was to the northern frontiers of India (1847-1851), and the expenses in this case also were partially defrayed by the government. The party had its full share of adventure. Hooker and his friend Dr Archibald Campbell were detained in prison for some time by the raja of Sikkim, but nevertheless they were able to bring back important results, both geographical and botanical. Their survey of hitherto unexplored regions was published by the Calcutta Trigonometrical Survey Office, and their botanical observations formed the basis of elaborate works on the rhododendrons of the Sikkim Himalaya and on the flora of India. His works were illustrated with lithographs by Walter Hood Fitch.
Among other journeys undertaken by Hooker were those to Palestine (1860), Morocco (1871), and the United States (1877), all yielding valuable scientific information. In the midst of all this travelling in foreign countries he quickly built up for himself a high scientific reputation at home. In 1855 he was appointed assistant-director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and in 1865 he succeeded his father as full director, holding the post for twenty years. At the early age of thirty he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and in 1873 he was chosen its president. He received three of its medals: the Royal in 1854, the Copley in 1887 and the Darwin in 1892.
He acted as president of the British Association at its Norwich meeting of 1868, when his address was remarkable for its championship of Darwinian theories. Of Darwin, indeed, he was an early friend and supporter: it was he who, with Charles Lyell, first induced Darwin to make his views public, and the author of The Origin of Species recorded his indebtedness to Hooker's wide knowledge and balanced judgment.
He was the author of numerous scientific papers and monographs, and his larger books included, in addition to those already mentioned, a standard Students Flora of the British Isles and a monumental work, the Genera plantarum, based on the collections at Kew, in which he had the assistance of George Bentham. On the publication of the last part of his Flora of British India in 1897 he was created G.C.S.I., of which order he had been made a knight commander twenty years before; and twenty years later, on attaining the age of ninety, he was awarded the Order of Merit.
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