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Gilbert White:
Biography, Bibliography

This page lists biographies, critical works and bibliographies about Gilbert White.

The books are ordered by publication date with the most recent at the top.

This is the first of a number of Gilbert White pages that will be added to the site:

- Biography / bibliography


The Life and Letters of Gilbert White of Selborne

Volume 1 & 2

Editor: Rashleigh Holt-White

Cambridge Library Collection

Cambridge University Press


"Published in 1901, this illustrated two-volume biography of the renowned English naturalist Gilbert White (172093) presents a thorough account of his life and achievements. Prepared by White's great-great-nephew Rashleigh Holt-White (18261920), it incorporates a selection of White's correspondence with family and friends, providing valuable insights into his beliefs and character. Included are letters sent by White's lifelong friend John Mulso (172191), who praised the naturalist's work, predicting it would 'immortalise' White and his Hampshire village. Still considered a classic text, The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (1789), featuring White's careful observations of local flora and fauna, is also reissued in the Cambridge Library Collection. In the present work, Holt-White sought to correct the 'erroneous statements' that had previously been made about his relative."

Volume 1 covers White's life and achievements up to August 1776, including his studies at Oxford and his ordination as a priest.

Volume 2 traces White's life from September 1776, considering the impact of the loss of family members, and his legacy after his death.

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The Selborne Pioneer: Gilbert White as Naturalist and Scientist: A Re-Examination

Ted Dadswell

Ashgate Publishing Limited / Routledge


"Gilbert White's name is known universally but, as Ted Dadswell insists in this book, important aspects of his work have frequently been overlooked even by scholarly editors. The Selborne naturalist (1720-1793) has been described as 'a prince of personal observers'; but a shrewd analytical questioning and comparing was also typical of his 'natural knowledge'. Exceptional even in his general aims, White studied the behaviour, the 'manners' and 'conversation', of his animals and plants. He saw, moreover, that an animal or plant and indeed a parish such as his own, was unitary in operation; again and again, a cause had numerous effects and an effect numerous causes. Observation could go forward in circumstances such as these, if one was both sharp-eyed and patient, but how could true investigation be managed? How could a particular cause or effect be isolated or tested? Here what Dadswell calls White's 'comparative habit' was put to good use. Gilbert White was a careful keeper of records, and using these comparatively he 'appealed to controls' while examining his living creatures."

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Selborne: Gilbert White's Village with a Guide to His House

Rupert Willoughby


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Gilbert White And His Records: A Scientific Biography

Paul G.M. Foster

Christopher Helm


"This biography, based mainly on White's own records, seeks primarily to examine the scientific activities of White's life, but White the academic, White the antiquarian and White the clergyman are explored in so far as they have a bearing on his study of nature. The opening chapters examine the scientific context of the first half of the 18th century and show the beginnings of White's future interests. The work goes on to examine the developments of White's methods of working and the contributions made by these methods and their practice, both in terms of discoveries and also in terms of their influence on his own and later times."

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Gilbert White

Richard Mabey

Ebury Press


"When the pioneering naturalist Gilbert White (1720-93) wrote The Natural History of Selborne (1789), he created one of the greatest and most influential natural history works of all time, his detailed observations about birds and animals providing the cornerstones of modern ecology. In this award-winning biography, Richard Mabey tells the wonderful story of the clergyman - England's first ecologist - whose inspirational naturalist's handbook has become an English classic."

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Gilbert White & His Selborne

Anthony Rye

William Kimber & Co


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Gilbert White In His Village

Cecil S. Emden

Illustrations: Lynton Lamb

Oxford University Press


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White Of Selborne And His Times

Walter S. Scott

John Westhouse


Reprinted by Falcon books in 1950 and by Nimrod Press in 1986.

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1946 edition

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1950 edition

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1986 edition

Bibliography Of Gilbert White: The Naturalist And Antiquarian Of Selborne

Edward A. Martin

Halton & Company


This is a revised and enlarged edition of a work first published in 1897.

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Gilbert White: Pioneer, Poet, and Stylist

Walter Johnson

John Murray


The chapter headings are:

  1. White: The Man
  2. The Scope of White's Work
  3. Zoological Anticipations
  4. Ecology
  5. Vertebrate Animals (Exclusive of Birds)
  6. Vertebrates: Birds
  7. Insects
  8. Botany
  9. Geology
  10. Meteorology
  11. Antiquities - Folklore - Customs - Social Economy
  12. Errors, and the Refutation of Errors
  13. White's Prose Style
  14. White's Poems
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In Nature's Ways: A Book For All Young Lovers Of Nature

Being An Introduction To Gilbert White's "Natural History Of Selborne"

Marcus Woodward



From the preface: "This book was planned and written with the purpose of introducing young people to Gilbert White's 'Natural History of Selborne' and to encourage the study of that immortal work. From earliest days of reading, when I learned to love this book, though I could not understand it, and would absorb myself for hours and days in its pages (pardoning, for the sake of the information, as Gilbert White once asked his original reader to do, the 'quaint and magisterial air' and reading on with ever new delight at his ideas ideas of 'everything that is rural, verdurous, and joyous'), I have always thought that a child's 'Selborne' was needed - in the same way as was a child's Bible, and a 'Tales from Shakespeare' not only an expurgated edition, but one with a simple running commentary of notes and explanations."

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The Life and Letters of Gilbert White of Selborne, Vol. 1 & 2

Rashleigh Holt-White

John Murray

Published in two volumes


From the preface: "I do not propose to offer any apology for publishing a Life of Gilbert White of Selborne; indeed, I think that an apology is due to the Shade of a naturalist who holds so high a place in the opinion and regard I might almost say the affection of his countrymen, that no authentic account of his career has yet been given to the world. Nevertheless, though a knowledge of natural history is not, of course, the only qualification necessary in a biographer of the Fellow of Oriel, the life of a naturalist should have been written by a naturalist; a title to which I have not the slightest claim: and I am not sure that I should ever have printed anything, had I not observed with regret that erroneous statements concerning the philosopher of Selborne were constantly occurring, in proportion to the interest taken in him which seems to be ever increasing.

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Last updated August 2013