Theatrum Botanicum

Theatrum Botanicum: The Theater of Plants by John Parkinson

Introduced by Darren Bloodworth of C Arden Booksellers, Hay-on-Wye

This magnificent work, published in London in 1640, is arguably the most detailed herbal in the English language.


Theatrum Botanicum is the most complete and beautifully presented English treatise on plants of its time. One of the most eminent gardeners of his day, he kept a botanical garden at Long Acre in Covent Garden, today close to Trafalgar Square, and maintained close relations with other important English and Continental botanists, herbalists and plantsmen.

John Parkinson was apothecary to James I and a founding member of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in December 1617, and was later Royal Botanist to Charles I.


This complete copy of Theatrum Botanicum is bound in two volumes with 2,714 fine wood cut illustrations. It is bound in Victorian/early 20th Century quarter calf-leather with gilt lettering and raised bands on spines.


Interestingly, this copy was owned by English Botanist George Claridge Druce (1850-1932). He passed his exams to become a Pharmacist, yet his main interest was Botany. In 1876, he was one of the founders of the Northampton Natural History Society. A prolific author – he wrote The Flora of Oxfordshire in 1886, then in 1887 The Flora of Berkshire, in 1926 The Flora of Buckinghamshire and in 1929, The Flora of West Ross.



For more details of this copy for sale at C Arden Booksellers go to: Do visit the shop to have a look at the copy (if it has not sold already!). Opening times are on the website. The Met Museum in New York has a copy of this book in its collection: Amazing that in the little town of Hay-on-Wye there are book treasures like this on the shelves. Do ask the second booksellers if they have anything special in stock, they are usually happy to show them – and even allow you to touch them (which wouldn’t happen in a museum or library!).

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