(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
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 artwork.
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......