Joseph Banks was the botanist who accompanied Captain Cook on his 1768–1771 voyage to Australia and the South Pacific. The genus Banksia is named in his honour – the Banksia integrifolia above is one example of the genus, and is taken from Banks’ botanical work, the Florilegium, which is partially available online at the Natural History Museum in London.
The artwork in this book is largely thanks to Sydney Parkinson, the artist who accompanied Banks (his self-portrait is below). Working under difficult conditions, Parkinson produced 943 botanical drawings (including 269 finished watercolours), but died of fever on the voyage back from Australia (he was only 25). A number of artists in England completed what this young hero of botany had begun, allowing the rest of the world to experience some of Australia’s unique and bizarre flora. Thank you, Sydney.