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Lite Lunch // Mark Catesby’s Journey as Nature’s Messenger

September 13, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

On Wednesday, September 13, CLS and Buxton Books presents a mid-day escape into the wild and wonderful world of Mark Catesby.

During this Lite Lunch program, the acclaimed writer and Catesby chronicler Patrick Dean will share stories from his fascinating new book, Nature’s Messenger, as we retrace the pioneering naturalist’s personal and professional path  from his youth as a landed gentleman in rural England through his early work as an emerging wildlife artist and beyond.

Dr. Nic Butler, a noted historian with the Charleston County Public Library, will add his own insights to this fresh exploration of Catesby’s life and legacy, as well as his lasting influence on Charleston.

Tickets are $25 for members, $35 for guests.

Click here or call 843.723.9912 during Box Office Hours (11:00am–4:00pm, Monday through Thursday) to purchase.

About Mark Catesby

In 1722, Mark Catesby stepped ashore in “Charles Town” in the Carolina colony. Over the next four years, the young naturalist made history as he explored deep into America’s natural wonders, collecting and drawing plants and animals which had never been seen back in the Old World. Nine years later Catesby produced his magnificent and groundbreaking book, The Natural History of Carolina, the first-ever illustrated account of American flora and fauna. Catesby preceded John James Audubon by nearly a century, and his work had a profound influence on our understanding of American wildlife and naturalist art.

About the Book

An adventurer and journeyman with an insatiable curiosity rivaled only by an eye for detail, Catesby was an artist of unparalleled scope. His careful attention to the knowledge of non-Europeans in America—the enslaved Africans and Native Americans who had their own sources of food and medicine from nature—set him apart from others of his time (although Dean does not shy away from Catesby’s actions and affiliations, either). Nature’s Messenger takes us from the rice plantations of the Carolina Lowcountry to the bustling coffeehouses of 18th-century England, from the sun-drenched islands of the Bahamas to the austere meeting-rooms of London’s Royal Society, then presided over by Isaac Newton. It was a time of discovery, of intellectual ferment, and of the rise of the British Empire. And there on history’s leading edge, recording the extraordinary and often violent mingling of cultures as well as of nature, was Mark Catesby.  Intensively researched and thrillingly told, Nature’s Messenger will thrill fans of exploration and early American history as well as appealing to birdwatchers, botanists, and anyone fascinated by the natural world.  

About the Author

Patrick Dean writes on the outdoors and the environment. He has worked as a teacher, a political media director, and is presently the executive director of a rail-trail nonprofit. An avid trail-runner, paddler, and mountain-biker, he lives with his wife and dogs on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, and is the author of A Window To Heaven, about the summit of Denali, also available from Pegasus Books.

About Nic Butler, Ph.D

Nic is the historian for the Charleston County Public Library. A native of Greenville County, Dr. Butler has worked for more than twenty years as a public historian specializing in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. As creator and host of the bi-weekly podcast “Charleston Time Machine,” Dr. Butler draws attention to a wide variety of under-explored aspects of local history and neglected documentary resources.


Charleston Library Society
164 King Street
Charleston, SC 29401 United States
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