Victoria Pickering

Post-Doctoral Research Assistant

Department: Prints and Drawings


+44 (0)20 7323 8446

Victoria Pickering is a post-doctoral researcher on this Leverhulme Trust funded research project which aims to understand the intellectual structures of Sloane’s manuscript catalogues and with them the origins of the Enlightenment disciplines and information management practices they helped to shape. Victoria is working closely with another post-doctoral researcher, Alexandra Ortolja-Baird, senior researcher Martha Fleming, as well as the Principle Investigator Kim Sloan (Curator of British Drawings and Watercolours before 1880 and the Francis Finlay Curator of the Enlightenment Gallery in the Department of Prints and Drawings) and the Co-Investigator Julianne Nyhan, from Digital Humanities at UCL. The project examines Sloane’s catalogues to reveal the way he and his contemporaries collected, organized and classified the world, through their descriptions, cross-references and codes.

This research develops Victoria’s work on an AHRC funded PhD at Queen Mary University of London and the Natural History Museum, London entitled "Putting Nature in a Box: Hans Sloane's 'Vegetable Substances' Collection". The ‘Vegetable Substances’ collection was formed by Sloane between the 1680s and the 1750s, consisting mainly of botanical specimens (such as seeds, beans, fruits and pieces of bark) now in the Natural History Museum. The 12,523 items were listed by Sloane in a three-volume manuscript catalogue with varying degrees of information relating to their identification, contributor, provenance and use. Considering the collection as a whole, her thesis explores the role of the ‘Vegetable Substances’ in early eighteenth-century natural knowledge.


Current and past projects

Enlightenment Architectures: Sir Hans Sloane’s catalogues of his collections


Selected publications

M. Ogborn and V. Pickering, The world in a nicknackatory: encounters and exchanges in Hans Sloane’s collection, in A. Craciun and M. Terrell (eds.), Explorations, encounters and the circulation of knowledge (Toronto, In Press 2017).

V. Pickering, Review of S. Gibson, Animal, vegetable, mineral? How eighteenth-century science disrupted the natural order (Oxford, 2015), Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society, 108:1 (2017), pp. 193-194.

A. Marples and V. Pickering, Patron’s review: exploring cultures of collecting in the early modern world, Archives of Natural History, 43:1 (2016), pp. 1-20.

V. Pickering, Mark Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina, in J. Magee (ed.), Rare treasures: from the library of the Natural History Museum (London, 2015), pp. 68-75.

V. Pickering, Review of H and W. Bynum, Remarkable plants that shape our world (London, 2014), Archives of Natural History, 42:2 (2015), pp. 379-380.