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Exhibition: Gilbert White Around the World

Our temporary exhibition; entitled ‘Gilbert White around the World’ it will explore Gilbert White’s international impact. The Natural History of Selborne, Gilbert White’s pioneering work, is often quoted as being the fourth most published book in the English language, however it is not just published in English, readers from all over the world have also read White from China to Sweden.

The exhibition will centre around these international copies of The Natural History of Selborne, charting Gilbert White’s influence around the world since the eighteenth century till today. Did you know that one of the languages that The Natural History of Selborne has been translated into the most is Japanese?

One of the jewels of the exhibition will be a 1792 German translation, the only translation made during Gilbert’s own lifetime. A tiny slim edition as the translator, a 24 year old naturalist by the name of Friedrich Meyer, cut away most of the work to leave fourteen letters of what he considered the best bits of the work.

White’s work followed English speaking immigrants to North America, Australia and New Zealand, where in the nineteenth century new editions began to appear.  White’s words have been translated in French, German, Spanish, Swedish, and Danish as well as Chinese and Japanese.

White himself did not travel far, not being in a position to travel internationally and suffering from terrible travel sickness White relied on the word of others to apply the theories he had surmised in Selborne to the wider world. He was in contact with Swedish Carl Linnaeus the greatest naturalist of the day, as well as being well versed on the writings of Austrian and French naturalists. He followed the adventures of naturalists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander as they travelled with Captain Cook around the world.

The exhibition will run until the 20th December and will be free to see alongside normal house admission.

See the exhibition online here:


  • Start Date: 03 Jan 20
  • End Date: 20 Dec 20
  • Please note: tickets purchased from us are non refundable.

Gilbert Whites House

Gilbert White was aged 7 or 8 when the White family moved from the Vicarage on Selborne’s Plestor, to this house, called ‘The Wakes’ (named after the Wake family who had lived here previously). At that time the property would have been no more than a ‘two up, two down’  but over the subsequent years lots of extensions and additions have been made, creating the long sizeable house you see today.

The rooms have been restored following descriptions in White’s own correspondence and include a chair he used at Oriel College, Oxford (loaned from the College), items of contemporary furniture, family portraits and bed hangings embroidered for him by his aunts.

On display is the original manuscript of his book, The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, which was purchased with generous help from English Heritage and others.

Learn more