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Solander, Daniel Carlsson (1733 - 1782)

Fellow of the Royal Society (elected 1764)
Archival/Heritage Sources Published Sources Gallery
Born: 19 February 1733  Piteå, Sweden.  Died: 8 May 1782  Soho Square, London, England.
Daniel Solander was a pupil of Charles Linné (Linneaus), the great Swedish naturalist and taxonomist. Through the patronage of Joseph Banks he served as naturalist on the Endeavour voyage and afterwards as Banks’ librarian and keeper of the Natural History specimens at the British Museum.

Career Highlights
At the age of 17 Solander enrolled in medicine at Uppsala University, where he also studied botany with Linneaus, and helped edit the celebrated naturalist’s Elementa Botanica (Elements of Botany), first published in 1756.

It was due to Linneaus that Solander arrived in England in July 1760 with letters of introduction to several prominent figures in British scientific circles.

Solander rapidly gained a reputation through his championing of Linneaus’ system of classification. On Linneaus’ recommendation, he was appointed Professor of Botany at the Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg. However, he declined the post in favour staying in England, where he was employed by Margaret Cavendish (1714-1785), Duchess of Portland, to catalogue her growing collection of natural history specimens, and in 1763 was appointed assistant librarian at the British Museum.

In June of the following year, Solander was appointed a fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1768, Solander was approached by Joseph Banks to accompany him on the Endeavour voyage. Banks offered him a salary of 400 pounds allowing him to employ an assistant at the museum for the duration of the voyage. Banks also made it clear that he would secure Solander a more prestigious post on their return.

Solander appears not to have kept a journal during the Endeavour voyage. However, his experiences and contribution to the scientific work of the voyage can be gauged from the journals of Cook and Banks.

On the return of the Endeavour to England, Banks employed Solander as his librarian and secretary, where he worked on preparing descriptions of the many botanical specimens for publication. In November 1771 he was awarded a honorary doctorate by the University of Oxford.

In 1773, Banks secured Solander the post of keeper of the Natural History Department at the British Museum.

Solander was by all accounts an engaging man who enjoyed good food and conversation. This has led several authorities to conclude that he neglected the routine work of cataloguing the specimens gathered during the Endeavour voyage. However, by the time of his sudden death of a cerebral haemorrhage at Banks’ Soho Square residence on 8 May 1782, Solander had systematically arranged and described the botanical and animal specimens gathered during the course of the Endeavour voyage into what are now 51 manuscript volumes in the Library of the British Museum (Natural History).

A full length oil portrait of Solander by William Parry now hangs in the Linnean Society of London. Josiah Wedgwood also produced two Jasper Ware medallions of the botanist.


Structure based on ISAAR(CPF) - click here for an explanation of the fields. Created: 25 February 2004

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000352

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