Title page to 'The Historie of foure-footed beastes', 1607.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Title page with a woodcut of a gorgon from 'The Historie of foure-footed beastes' by Edward Topsell (1572-1625?) published in London in 1607. Topsell's main source was 'Historiae animalium' by Conrad Gesner (1516-1565) published in 1551. He translated and edited Gesner's text, adding his own. The engravings are exact reproductions of those in Gesner's work. Topsell's work was the first major book on animals printed in Britain in English. It summarized all real and mythical zoological knowledge collected since antiquity, but it was soon rendered obsolete by new discoveries.