Thomas Moffett

Thomas Moffett. Insectorum sive minimorum animalium theatrum. London, 1634.

Thomas Moffett. Insectorum sive minimorum animalium theatrum. London, 1634.

This is the first book dealing entirely with entomology to be published in the British Isles. It has been supposed, on the basis of Moffett's interest in spiders, that his daughter Patience was the ‘little Miss Muffet’ of the nursery rhyme. Physician Thomas Moffett (1553-1604) visited Italy in 1580, where he studied the culture of the silkworm (which he later made the subject of a poem), and developed an absorbing interest in entomology.

By 1590 he had completedInsectorum, which was partly compiled from the unpublished writings of Conrad Gesner. However, the manuscript remained unprinted until 1634. The work gives a systematic account of the habits, habitat, breeding, and economic importance of insects, with special emphasis given to bees.

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