Brave, inquisitive, entrepreneurial: Joseph Banks personified the spirit of late 18th century Enlightenment Europe. Banks’ fascination with the plant and animal kingdom began when he was a boy in rural Lincolnshire. A privileged upbringing saw him schooled at the famous institutions Harrow, Eton and Oxford. As a well-connected, independently wealthy adult, Banks developed a particular friendship with Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich, who introduced Banks to the pleasures of angling, and the debaucheries of the London club scene.In 1768, 25-year-old Joseph joined a round-the-world voyage led by the great English navigator, James Cook. This introduced Banks to the freedoms of traditional Polynesian society. He became an ardent lover of indigenous women and an assiduous collector of exotic flora and fauna. Following his return to England, Banks became a figure of renown, lionised by English society. But his dreams of a second world voyage with Cook ended before they began. How did this happen? How did Banks’ vision become a chimera? This novel tells all.
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