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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Arabella B. Buckley

While perusing a delightfully labrinth-like used bookstore in downtown Milwaukee I stumbled up a book titled The Fairy-Land of Science by Arabella B. Buckley (1905). I was instantly charmed by the queer creepy dripping title typeface, the abundance of amazing illustrations, and the books' dense rock-like heft from the use of frontispiece-quality paper throughout.

I've only read the first chapter but am already hooked. The book uses myth and fantasy to explaining cutting-edge science (of the time) to children.
"I have promised to introduce you today to the fairy-land of science - a somewhat bold promise, seeing that most of you probably look upon science as a bundle of dry facts, while fairy-land is all that is beautiful, and full of poetry and imagination. But I thoroughly believe myself, and hope to prove to you, that science is full of beautiful pictures, of real poetry, and of wonder-working fairies; and what is more, I promise you they shall be true fairies, whom you will love just as much when you are old and greyheaded as when you are young; for you will be able to call them up wherever you wander by land or by sea, through meadow or through wood, through water or through air; and though they themselves will always remain invisible, yet you will see their wonderful poet at work everywhere around you."
I did a little research on Buckley and discovered that she was an assitant to Charles Lyell and through him became aquanted with Charles Darwin. Infact, Buckley wrote a letter to Darwin asking him to help Alfred Russel Wallace (who also concieved of the concept of natural selection but allowed Darwin to publish his book first and therefore recieve the credit) who was in poor finacial and physical health.

Arabella B. Buckley has been featured twice on a University of Houstan radio program called Engines of our Ingenuity:

I could only a find a few of Buckley's books' Illustrations on-line. (here, here, and here). So I'm going to start scanning in the images from my book and posting them.

The entire text of the book is available here.

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