Michigan State University

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English Agricultural History

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The Agricultural Collection is especially strong in early English agricultural and farming imprints. Beginning in the mid seventeenth century with the founding of the Royal Society (1662), there was steady improvements in agriculture with the introduction of more scientific approach to the land, tilling, seeds, and husbandry. Earlier works in the collection include John Worlidge's, Systema Agriculturae (1669), the first systematic treatise on husbandry on a large and comprehensive scale; Nehemiah Gray's, The Anatomy of Plants (1682); William Lawson's, A New Orchard and Garden (1682), which is the earliest published work on gardening in the north of England; Leonard Meager's, The English Gardener (1670); and John Evelyn's, Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest-trees and the Propagation of Timber, written in response to the Royal Navy's concern with forest depletion. The earliest known record of cross-fertilization is Richard Bradley's, New Improvements of Planting and Gardening (1739). Books by such important agricultural writers, innovators, and observers as Bradley, Arthur Young, Jethro Tull (the farmer not the group), and William Marshall are plentiful. Landscape books are numerous as well with the greatest number by Humphrey Repton, including Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton (1808), Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening (1794), and Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1803).