Gould in later life

John Gould was unwell by the late 1870s, but this did not deter him from working.

John Gould in 1875

Australian Museum Photography © Australian Museum Research Library

As Gould's interests changed from Australian birds to the forests of South America in search of hummingbirds, so did the interests of his correspondents. Gould, therefore set the trends and led the ornithological field for much of the 19th century.

His impressive career in publishing continued and in the period 1852-1880 ten more beautiful editions published. Many of these were multi-volumed. These include:

  • A Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans (2nd ed)
  • A Monograph of Trogonidae, or Family of Trogons
  • The Birds of Great Britain
  • Birds of New Guinea, and the adjacent Papuan Islands.

Gould died in 1881, leaving a priceless collection of 12,395 specimens and a legacy of scientific knowledge. He chose his own epitaph: John Gould the Bird Man.

At the time of his death, his stock of unsold copies, unbound text and plates in various states, lithographic stones, drawings and paintings, amounted to nearly thirty tons. The entire lot, along with Gould's copyright, was purchased by the London bookseller, Henry Sotheran Ltd, and put in storage for over 50 years until 1936, when Ralph Ellis went to London and purchased a large part of the John Gould archives.


Ms Leone Lemmer
Matthew Stephens
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