Herbals deal primarily with medicinal and culinary herbs, their real and supposed properties and virtues, and in origin they go back at least to the Ancient Greeks. During the 16th and 17th centuries they developed into attractively illustrated printed books, the forerunners of modern botanical and pharmaceutical textbooks. Agnes Arber’s Herbals (first published in 1912, much revised in 1938) stands as the major survey of the period 1470 to 1670 when botany evolved into a scientific discipline separate from herbalism, a development reflected in contemporary herbals. Every work on herbals since 1912 has been indebted to Arber’s classic. The present volume in the Cambridge Science Classics series, while retaining her main text unaltered, supplements this with two of her later writings on herbals, provides a biographical introduction, greatly extends the bibliography and has annotations modifying the original text through later enquiry. This added material will make this re-issue invaluable to librarians, historians of science, book-lovers and all with an interest in the early development of botany, pharmacy and book production, even if they already possess the long-unobtainable 1938 edition.
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