Audubon's Elephant: The story of John James Audubon's epic struggle to publish The Birds of America

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9780753817889: Audubon's Elephant: The story of John James Audubon's epic struggle to publish The Birds of America
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Illegitimate, half-French, half-American, poorly educated, chronically short of money and obsessed with birds, Audubon came to England in 1826 to find a publisher for his extraordinary paintings. He insisted that they must be reproduced on double-elephant folio paper - sheets almost 40 inches by 30 - so that even the largest species could be represented life size, and no-one in America had been prepared to tackle such a gigantic task. Drawing on Audubon's journals, letters to his wife and the archives of the families with whom he stayed and worked, Duff Hart-Davis recreates Audubon's twelve years in Britain in search of patrons and publishers. It is an extraordinary story of an obsessive genius and his observations of people, places and events in early nineteenth-century England and Scotland. 'An attractive account of a publishing story that will be enjoyed both by specialists and by those who don't know one end of a Roseate Spoonbill from another' Daily Telegraph

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About the Author:

Duff Hart-Davis is a writer and journalist. His books include Fauna Britannica and Audubon's Elephant. He was Literary Editor and Assistant Editor of the Sunday Telegraph and was been country columnist for The Independent 1986-2001. He lives and farms in Gloucestershire.

From Publishers Weekly:

With precision and detail, Hart-Davis, an English nature writer, tells the story of Audubon's years in England and Europe trying to sell his unwieldy masterpiece. Audubon, at 41 years old a peripatetic woodsman and artist, sailed for England, carrying a 100-pound portfolio of his bird paintings (his "elephant" or double-elephant color folio format). Full of quotations from Audubon's lively, honest diaries and letters, Hart-Davis's book portrays this man of exuberance and determination as he walked 165 miles from Kentucky to Ste. Genevieve, Mo., on the Mississippi River trying to collect funds owed him. Facing bankruptcy in America, Audubon sailed to Europe and slowly but surely met wealthy, connected families like the Rathbones in England and men like William Home Lizars in Edinburgh, who was to become Audubon's first printer. Despite bitter competition from the supporters of another ornithologist (George Ord) and long separations from his wife, Lucy, and their children, Audubon prevailed, meeting Sir Walter Scott and securing subscriptions from King George IV and other members of the royal family. Because the book focuses mainly on the years of Audubon's European travels, one doesn't get a full picture of the man, and readers may question the importance of the minutiae of meals and weather on his journey. However, solid research, fine writing and details of 19th-century society make this a worthwhile book for historians, artists and Audubon enthusiasts alike. What stands out most are the 31 b&w and 41 color illustrations throughout.
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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780805075687: Audubon's Elephant: America's Greatest Naturalist and the Making of The Birds of America

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ISBN 10:  0805075682 ISBN 13:  9780805075687
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co., 2004
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9780805077759: Audubon's Elephant: America's Greatest Naturalist and the Making of The Birds of America

Holt P..., 2005
Softcover

9780297829676: Audubon's Elephant: The Story of John James Audubon's Epic Struggle to Publish the Birds of America

Weiden..., 2003
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