The Literary Life of the Late Thomas Pennant, Esq.: by Himself

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The humorously self-styled 'late' Thomas Pennant (1726-98) published this short autobiographical survey in 1793. A prominent Welsh naturalist and antiquary, he was known more for his energy and meticulous methodology than for original scientific genius. Yet he helped popularise natural history with beautifully illustrated works such as his History of Quadrupeds, the third edition of which is also reissued in this series. Moreover, he is credited with preserving thorough records of antiquities that were later damaged or destroyed. Samuel Johnson, who toured Scotland after Pennant, praised him as 'the best traveller I ever read'. More than a mere travelogue, Pennant's Literary Life is full of delightful vignettes - his meeting with the 'wicked wit' Voltaire, his affection for his faithful servant and illustrator Moses Griffith, and his poetic critique of certain hypocritical clergy. The appendices contain several of Pennant's shorter pieces on diverse topics, from anthropology to politics.