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George Edwards

George Edwards

*  1694 Stratford
† 1773 Plaistow

George Edwards was born in 1694 in Stratford, West Ham near London. Financially independent because of inherited wealth, Edwards spent most of his time observing and depicting indigenous and non-indigenous species of birds, either live specimens or those prepared and imported by ship from Africa, India, China, and Malaysia. Many of his drawings were done on commission, for such men as Sir Hans Sloane, president of the Royal Society and Royal College of Physicians, whose beadle Edwards became in 1733. Because of activities having to do with the Royal Society, he met many of the leading researchers of his time, who had a definite influence on his works. Edwards' friend and mentor Mark Catesby taught him the technique of engraving, which made it possible for him to engrave his own drawings, the results of which can be found in his natural historical works "A national history of uncommon birds" (1743-1751) and "Gleanings of natural history" (1758-1764). Like Mark Catesby and Eleazar Albin, he added to the hand colored compositions of his illustration engravings by including insects, especially butterflies. Edwards' first time descriptions of numerous birds were used by Carl von Linné, with whom Edwards was in close contact, as the basis for his scientific naming of about 300 species of birds. In 1757, Edwards became a member of the Royal Society, and he wrote many articles for the Society's journal "Philosophical Transactions." Edwards died on July 23, 1773, in Plaistow, West Ham.