Edward Donovan (1768–1837) was an Anglo Irish writer, natural
history illustrator and amateur zoologist.
Born in Cork, Ireland, Donovan was an avid collector of natural history
specimens purchased mainly at auctions of specimens from voyages of exploration.
He was a Fellow of the Linnean Society and the Wernerian Natural History Society
which gave him access to the best collections and libraries in London.It was
quite common for private collectors to open small public museums, and in 1807 he
founded the London Museum and Institute of Natural History. This exhibited
several hundred cases of world birds, mammals , reptiles, fish, molluscs,
insects, corals and other invertebrates and botanical specimens and other
exotica alongside his British collections.
Donovan was, at first, the very successful author of a number of natural history
titles, including Natural History of British Birds (1792-97), Natural
History of British Insects (1792-1813) , Natural History of British
Fishes (1802-08) and the two-volume Descriptive Excursions through South
Wales and Monmouthshire in the Year 1804, and the Four Preceding Summers
(1805) and the short-lived Botanical Review, or the Beauties of Flora
(London, 1789–90). He also wrote articles on natural history in Rees's
Cyclopædia and undertook commissions for private albums of his botanical
His best known works are , An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects
of China (1798) and An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of
India (1800), and Insects of New Holland (1805).