Prideaux John Selby

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Eider duck from "Illustrations of British Ornithology"
Melanitta perspicillata from "Jardine's Illustrations of the Duck Tribe"
Prideaux John Selby
Born (1788-07-23)23 July 1788
Alnwick, Northumberland, England
Died 27 March 1867(1867-03-27) (aged 78)
Bamburgh, Northumberland, England
Occupation ornithologist, botanist, artist
Nationality British

Prideaux John Selby (23 July 1788 – 27 March 1867) was an English ornithologist, botanist and natural history artist.


Selby was born at Alnwick in Northumberland, a son of the Beal and Twizell House, Northumberland branch of the Selby family. He studied at University College, Oxford. He succeeded in 1804 to the family estates at Beal, and added to the landholdings there at a cost of some £14000 in about 1840. He sold the Beal estate amounting to 1,450 acres (590 ha) in 1850 for £47000 (£4,612,000 at today's prices).

He married Lewis Tabitha Mitford and they had three daughters. He died at Twizell House and was buried in Bamburgh churchyard.


Selby is best known for his Illustrations of British Ornithology (1821–1834), the first set of life-sized illustrations of British birds. He also wrote Illustrations of Ornithology with William Jardine and A History of British Forest-trees (1842).

Many of the illustrations in his works were drawn from specimens in his collection. In addition to the above works he contributed to Jardine's Naturalist's Library the volumes on the pigeons (1835) and the parrots (1836), the latter illustrated by Edward Lear. He was for some time one of the editors of the Magazine of Zoology and Botany.

His collections were sold in 1885 and became dispersed. The South African birds collected by Andrew Smith went to the Zoology Museum of the University of Cambridge.

See also


  1. ^ IPNI.  P.Selby. 

Further references

Bowey, K. and Newsome, M. (Ed) 2012. The Birds of Durham. Durham Bird Club. ISBN 978-1-874701-03-3


  • Mullens; Swann. (1918). A Bibliography of British Ornithology.
  • Raine, Revd. James (1852). The History and Antiquities of North Durham. p338
  • Jackson, Christine E. (2004). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

External links

  • Gallery of Prideaux John Selby art
  • Selby, Prideaux John (1836) Natural history of parrots Edinburgh: W. H. Lizars. - digital facsimile from Linda Hall Library
  • A collection of ornithological prints from Selby's 1833 British ornithology and his 1835 The natural history of pigeons. - Linda Hall Library
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