Collecting the World

Collecting the World

The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane


Hans Sloane was a young doctor from Northern Ireland who made his way in London and eventually become physician to the king and much of London society. In his youth he made a defining visit to Jamaica, where he began collecting 'curiosities' of all kinds. He eventually became the centre of a worldwide network which allowed him to assemble the collections which became the core of the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the British Library. This is the first major biography of Sloane in 60 years. It explores not just the impact of an extraordinary man, but allows us a window onto the moment when the meaning of collections and collecting changed.

About the author

James Delbourgo

James Delbourgo was educated at East Anglia, Cambridge and Columbia universities, and previously taught at McGill University, Montreal. In 2008, he became Associate Professor in the History of Science and the Atlantic World at Rutgers - the State University of New Jersey. He has written for the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Atlantic and Cabinet Magazine. His previous books include A Most Amazing Scene of Wonders: Electricity and Enlightenment in Early America (2006), which won the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize. In 2016, he was Visiting Professor of History of Science at Harvard University.

Collecting the World
won the British Society for the History of Science Hughes Prize (2019), the Annibel Jenkins Biography Prize (2019), the American Historical Association Leo Gershoy Award (2018) and the Louis Gottschalk Prize (2018).
Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more