Robert Kerr (writer)
Kerr was born in Roxburghshire as the son of a jeweller. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and practised at the Edinburgh Foundling Hospital as a surgeon. He translated several scientific works into English, such as Antoine Lavoisier's work of 1789, Traité Élémentaire de Chimie, published under the title Elements of Chemistry in a New Systematic Order containing All the Modern Discoveries, in 1790. In 1792, he published The Animal Kingdom, the first two volumes of a four-tome translation of Linnaeus' Systema Naturae, which is often cited as the taxonomic authority for a great many species. (He never did the remaining two volumes.)
In 1794 he left his post as a surgeon to manage a paper mill. He lost much of his fortune with this enterprise. Out of economical necessity he began writing again in 1809, publishing a variety of minor works, for instance a General View of the Agriculture of Berwickshire. His last work was a translation of Cuvier's Recherches sur les ossements fossiles de quadrupedes, which was published after Kerr's death under the title "Essays on the Theory of the Earth".
His other works included a massive historical study entitled A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels in eighteen volumes. Kerr began the series in 1811, dedicating it to Sir Alexander Cochrane, K.B., Vice-Admiral of the White. Publication did not cease following Kerr's death in 1813; the latter volumes were published into the 1820s.
- Kerr, Robert (1824). A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea and Land, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Time. Edinburgh: William Blackwood.
- Lee, Sidney, ed. (1892). "Kerr, Robert (1755-1813)". Dictionary of National Biography 31. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Antoine Lavoisier, Elements of Chemistry (1790)
- Lavoisier, Antoine (1965). Elements of Chemistry. New York: Dover.- The introduction by Douglas McKie has information on Robert Kerr, the book's translator.
- Contemporary review of the "Essays on the Theory of the Earth"
- Author Record for Robert Kerr on Project Gutenberg - Links to A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels
- Significant Scots: Robert Kerr from ElectricScotland.com.
- Works by Robert Kerr at Project Gutenberg