Title page of Schomburgk's Twelve views in the interior of Guiana Guyana

Title page of Twelve views in the interior of Guiana
Title page of Twelve views in the interior of Guiana

Custodian: University of Glasgow Library Special Collections

Reference: Sp Coll e193

Robert Hermann Schomburgk (1804–65) was a German-born businessman, explorer and naturalist.

After an eventful and ultimately unsuccessful commercial career in the USA and Caribbean, and without requisite skills, he undertook a survey of one of the Virgin Islands (now the northernmost of the British Virgin Islands) at his own expense, sending his report to the Royal Geographical Society in London. His survey made such a positive impression that he was commissioned to lead an exploratory expedition to British Guiana in 1835–39. He subsequently produced A description of British Guiana, geographical and statistical: exhibiting its resources and capabilities, together with the present and future condition and prospects of the colony (1840), Twelve views in the interior of Guiana (1841) and The Natural History of the Fishes of Guiana (1841–3). He also discovered species of waterlily and orchid.

In 1841 he was knighted by Queen Victoria. In the 1840s he posted to Barbados where he wrote a geographical and statistical description of the island, and later served as British consul to the Dominican Republic and consul-general to Siam (Thailand). He also continued his georgraphical survey work.

Twelve views in the interior of Guiana was illustrated by London-based watercolour artist Charles Bentley (1805/6–54) after drawings made by during the expedition by draughtsman John Morison (F. Gordon Roe, 'Charles Bentley. Member of the "Old Water-Colour" Society', Walker's Quarterly, no. 3, April 1921 [accessed online 5 November 2013]).