Book Launch: The French Collector

Book launch Paul Gibbard The French Collector

Come along to the official launch of The French Collector: Journal and Letters of Théodore Leschenault, Botanist of the Baudin Expedition by Dr Paul Gibbard on July 28 2023.

The book launch will feature a talk by Paul Gibbard and Kirk Essary.


Key details:

  • Friday 28 July 2023
  • 5.30pm to 7.00pm
  • Alliance Française de Perth, 75 Broadway Nedlands WA 6009
  • Free event - RSVP online through Alliance Française



The French Collector book cover


‘It is only with difficulty that I may describe for you the sensations I felt the first time I went ashore on an unknown coast. My whole being was filled with confused pleasure, everything around me sparked my curiosity – pebbles, shells washed up on the beach, plants. I collected all with wild enthusiasm…’

The French botanist Théodore Leschenault (1773–1826) travelled with Nicolas Baudin’s voyage of discovery to Australia in the years 1800 to 1803: his journal and letters vividly record his impressions of the plant life and animals he encountered, along with dramatic and unsettling meetings with Indigenous peoples. Shaped as much by Enlightenment ideas as by his painful experience of the French Revolution, Leschenault weaves through his travelogue reflections on topics ranging from slavery and colonialism to plant systematics and environmental damage.

Long thought lost, Leschenault’s original manuscript journal was rediscovered only in 2016. The French Collector offers the first complete English translation of this journal (including two previously unknown chapters recounting his experiences in Le Havre, Tenerife and Mauritius) and various letters relating to the expedition. This edition also provides extensive explanatory notes and an introduction which details Leschenault’s early life in Burgundy and imprisonment during the Revolution and sets his activities against the backdrop of French science and exploration in the period.



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