This is the story of John Gould, whose driving energy and endless enthusiasm would see him achieve enduring renown as the ‘father of Australian ornithology’. In 1838, Gould and his wife, Elizabeth, made the greatest sacrifice for his work, leaving behind their family and home in London to travel to the far-flung colony of Van Diemen’s Land, from where Gould would travel around the mainland to observe the native fauna. Gould’s artists — Elizabeth foremost among them — would depict these creatures in exquisite lithographs, accompanied by Gould’s commentary. With all the acumen of a shrewd Victorian entrepreneur, Gould established a thriving business that took him into the world of the British aristocracy and the scientific elite. His is a tale of enduring love and of a man’s unending ability to see beauty in nature, despite the greatest of life’s tragedies.
The Business of Nature provides a brief sketch of the life of John Gould, whose classic volumes, The Birds of Australia and The Mammals of Australia, have been admired by generations of Australians. The publication features over 130 colour plates of some of Australia’s favourite birds and mammals from Gould’s works held by the National Library of Australia.