Sir William Jackson Hooker

Sir William Jackson Hooker

(1785-1865) Sir William Jackson Hooker was a British botanist specalizing in systematics, and was also a botanical illustrator. He began his botany career early studying natural history and became interested in an unusual moss species. He was from a weathly family and could fund his own expeditions. His first foray was to Iceland, but a fire on the ship destroyed all of his collections and notes and almost killed him as well. He was able to recall many details and published a journal about his findings in 1811. From there he traveled to France, Switzerland and northern Italy collecting specimens throughout.

He married in 1815 and shortly thereafter established his own personal herbarium, which became internationally known. He published a number of botanical papers over the next several years and accepted a position at the University of Glasgow in 1820. He helped to establish the Royal Botanic Institution of Glasgow and the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. He became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1823. He convinced the British government that botanical expeditions should be state-funded.

Over time, many botanists submitted specimens to Hooker's personal herbarium, which elevated his public profile. He was knighted by the monarchy in 1836 and was appointed director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 1841, the most respected botanical institution in the world. He expanded gardens and the arboretum and established a museum of economic botany.

He died in 1865. His son, Joseph Dalton Hooker, became a highly respected botanist in his own right and succeeded his father at Kew Gardens.

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