Solander, Daniel Carl (1733-1782)
Bergius, Peter Jonas (1730-1790) (specimens to)
Ellis, John (1710-1776) (co-author)
Heberden, Thomas (1703-1769) (co-collector)
Lind, James (1736-1812) (co-collector)
Oldenburg, Franz Pehr (1740-1774) (correspondent)
Linnaeus, Carl (1707-1778) (student, specimens from)
Dryander, Jonas Carl (1748-1810)
Solander was born at Piteå, Norrland, the son of a Lutheran rector. Later in his life he adopted his father's Christian name, Carl, as a middle name. Enrolling at the University of Uppsala in 1750, Solander's studies were directed at a legal career, but he showed an aptitude for natural history and the professor of botany, Carl Linnaeus, went to the young man's father to persuade him that Solander should switch his studies accordingly. Thus Solander became an assistant to Linnaeus, even moving into his house. During this period he botanised in the summer holidays, for example at Lake Torneträsk in 1755, and in 1756 worked as editor of Linnaeus' Elementa Botanica. It was also during this time that Solander fell in love with Linnaeus' eldest daughter, Elisabeth Christina. (He was very upset when she wed another in 1764; Solander remained a bachelor his whole life.)
In 1760 Solander travelled to England on Linnaeus' suggestion. He originally made his way south to Skåne in April 1759, hoping to find berth on a ship to London, but was taken ill with malaria and forced to rest at a relative's house in the town. He did not manage to arrive in London therefore until June 1760, where, armed with letters of introduction to the eminent naturalists Peter Collinson (1694-1769) and John Ellis (1710-1776), he was welcomed into their fraternity and set about the task of promoting Linnaeus' system of classification. Meanwhile news came that his father had died, a cloud over what was ultimately a fruitful and happy time for the young botanist.
Outgoing and linguistically talented, Solander made many friends and learnt English quickly. Recommended by Collinson, he was employed in cataloguing natural history collections at the British Museum. As an assistant at the museum from 1763 he was indeed able to promote the Linnaean system, and in 1765 began working on a catalogue of the collections of the Duchess of Portland. He had been elected to the Royal Society in the previous year.
With his prestigious contacts, it was no surprise Solander came to the attention of Joseph Banks, who at that time was planning his part in Cook's voyage to the South Seas to observe the 1769 transit of Venus and search for the continent dubbed Terra Australis. Solander was invited by Banks to join the expedition's scientific staff on a salary of £400, and thus left English shores on 26 August 1768, when the Endeavour sailed from Plymouth. The ship would travel to Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, Tierra del Fuego, the Society Islands and New Zealand to the east coast of Australia on the way out, and on the home voyage dropped anchor at New Guinea, Indonesia, The Cape and St Helena before reaching Deal on 12 July 1771. The 94-strong crew was down by 38 members come this time. In its cargo were 30,300 plant specimens, in addition to zoological collections.
During the three-year expedition Solander was Banks' right-hand man, helping to build a significant collection of natural history specimens from eastern Australia and other locations en route. Indeed it was Solander who penned the first scientific descriptions of Australian animals including the kangaroo, and he is thus thought of as the father of Australian zoology.
Back in England, Banks and Solander were hailed for their discoveries. They were both received by King George III and Solander's reputation went from strength to strength. Despite never having returned to Sweden to complete his doctoral studies, he was already referred to as doctor, but now he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Law from Oxford. Solander began work at Banks' home in Soho Square as his secretary and librarian, meanwhile preparing the scientific results of the expedition. All his work describing the plants collected on the Australian part of the expedition was left in manuscript form, however, until more that a century after his death.
The team of Banks and Solander now prepared for further collecting expeditions (rather than spending their time organising those they had recently made) and in 1772 they worked on the Isle of Wight, the Scottish Highlands and Iceland, while in 1773 they made collections in Wales.
Solander was offered posts at the Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg and at Uppsala, but turned down both roles (much to the chagrin of Linnaeus, who wished his star pupil to be his successor). He did accept a new appointment in 1773, however, as Keeper of Natural History at the British Museum. Continuing to reside with Banks, Solander lived another nine years, dying of a stroke in May 1782. He was buried at the Swedish Church in London, though his remains were moved to Woking in 1913. The tropical American plant genus Solandra commemorates him, as do several Australian species names and the promontory Point Solander at Botany Bay, Australia.
Solander published little due to his busy schedule, but left much manuscript material relating to the Endeavour voyage and his trip to Iceland. Illustrations of Australian Plants Collected in 1770 During Captain Cook's Voyage Round the World in HMS Endeavour (edited by James Britten), featuring descriptions by Solander, was eventually published in 1905 by the British Museum. His other published works were a description of fossils given to the British Museum by Gustavus Brander, plus papers on the gardenia, a parasitic worm and on zoological collections made by John Ellis.
R.E. Fries, 1940, "Daniel Solander", Kungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademien Arsbok, 1940: 279-301
L.A. Gilbert, "Solander, Daniel (1733-1782)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University:
http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/solander-daniel-2677/text3741, accessed 16 November 2011
C. Jarvis, 2007, Order out of Chaos: 229
P. Tingbrand, The Solander Society:
http://welcome.to/solander, accessed 15 November 2011.
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