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William Curtis
Dates: British, 1746 - 1799
Biographical Account:

Curtis was born in Hampshire and studied as an apothecary’s apprentice. He rose to become a Demonstrator and later Director at the Society of Apothecaries’ Chelsea Physic Garden in London. Through his work at the garden he became interested in botany and established his own botanic garden in London in 1779.


While his first publication was about insect collecting, his major work and research was about plants. His multi-volume and large-scale book ‘Flora Londinensis’ had very high production values and whilst he was greatly praised for the work, the expense of producing it almost bankrupted him. He next began to publish regular instalments of ‘The Botanical Magazine’,  which was more cheaply produced and more widely available sas it was aimed at garden enthusiasts as well as specialists. It became a commercial success and is still published today by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

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