30. Gosse, Phillip Henry(1810-1888).
Actinologia Britannica. A History of the British
Sea-anemones and Corals.
London: Van Voorst, 1860
Philip Henry Gosse was the popularizer, if not the inventor, of the aquarium. Its predecessor, the terrarium, had been invented in the 1830s, which gave rise to a craze for growing ferns in parlor rooms in Victorian England. Gosse had the brilliant idea of turning a terrarium upside down and filling it with sea life. Once it was discovered that the inclusion of plants would provide oxygen for the animals, aquarium culture took off, and in the late 1850s, when Darwin was writing the Origin of Species, others were plunging into tide-water pools on the seacoast, looking for likely specimens. One of the most desirable was the sea-anemone, with its waving tentacles and beautiful colors. After publishing several manuals describing how to maintain an aquarium, Gosse wrote this beautiful book solely on anemones and corals. He appears to have been trying to move beyond the aquarium crowd and establish himself as the authority on anemomes, the way Darwin had on barnacles, and Gosse seems to have been successful. The stunning plates were drawn by Gosse himself, and then printed in color by W. Dickes.