First published more than thirty years ago (in 1970), Wilfrid Blunt’s thorough biography of the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707–78) has been made into a scrumptious coffee-table book. The elder brother of Christopher (merchant banker, authority on medieval coins) and Anthony (Poussin expert, Keeper of the Queen’s Pictures, and Soviet spy), Wilfrid, who taught at Eton, was a writer without frontiers, characteristically crowding his extensive knowledge into biographies of representative figures from a diversity of cultures.

Blunt has the British sense of fair-play and a reticent, decent distance from so accomplished a life as that of Linnaeus, paying great attention to the people Linnaeus knew in England, Holland, Germany, and Sweden. A later book by Sten Lindroth (Sweden’s leading historian of science), Gunnar Erickson, Gunnar Broberg, and Tore Frangsmyr, Linnaeus: The Man and His Work (California, 1983),...


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