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Joseph Hooker Collection

The Joseph Hooker Correspondence Project

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The Joseph Hooker Correspondence Project is conserving, digitising, transcribing and making available online the personal and scientific correspondence of Joseph Hooker (1817-1911), an important - but often overlooked - 19th century naturalist and explorer. He was the leading botanist of his day, pioneered the discipline of geographical botany, and served as President of the Royal Society from 1873-1878 and as Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for twenty years (1865-1885).

Hooker had an extensive network of correspondents, including many of the great Victorian scientists, most famously Charles Darwin. The formation of this online repository of Hooker's letters, comprised largely of previously unpublished archive material, is intended chiefly to facilitate academic research. Kew also hopes to bring knowledge of Joseph Hooker to a wider audience and to extend awareness of the extent and significance of his work.

We're currently developing the Joseph Hooker Collection pages. You may notice some changes to the site while we carry out this maintenance work, please bear with us as we make these updates

Explore Joseph Hooker's letters

Hooker in India

Here Hooker is surrounded by attendants presenting him with plants, the dramatic Himalayan landscape behind them. Hooker did employ local people as plant collectors but he also hunted for plants himself, often in very challenging terrain.

Idealised portrait of Hooker in India

Why was Hooker in India? Where did he go? What did he collect? And what did he have to say about it all in his letters?

While Darwin made only one significant trip, Hooker was an inveterate traveller. Discover how Hooker's trip to India made a massive contribution to botanical science but landed him in jail and very nearly kicked off a war.

Hooker in India

Joseph Hooker's life and work

Michael Palin

Joseph Hooker was, in Michael Palin's words, 'the man who knew everybody' and, as his life spanned the late Victorian era and early 20th century, 'everybody' included giants of science like Charles Darwin.

Our Hooker microsite allows you to immerse yourself in the life of one of Britain's most remarkable men of science.

Find out more about the life and work of Joseph Hooker

Read Michael Palin's take on Hooker