The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma

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The Fauna of British India (short title) with long titles including The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma,[1] and The Fauna of British India Including the Remainder of the Oriental Region is a series of scientific books that was published by the British government in India and printed by Taylor and Francis of London. The series was started sometime in 1881 after a letter had been sent to the Secretary of State for India signed by Charles Darwin, Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker and other "eminent men of science" forwarded by P.L.Sclater to R.H. Hobart.[2][3][4] W. T. Blanford was appointed editor and began work on the volume on mammals.

W. T .Blanford (1832–1905)

In the volume on the mammals, Blanford notes:

The need for new and revised descriptive works had, for some years before 1881, been felt and discussed amongst naturalists in India, but the attention of the Government was, I believe, first called to the matter by a memorial dated Sept. 15th of that year, prepared by Mr. P. L. Sclater, the well-known Secretary of the Zoological Society, signed by Mr. Charles Darwin, Sir J. Hooker, Professor Huxley, Sir J. Lubbock, Prof. W. H. Flower, and by Mr. Sclater himself, and presented to the Secretary of State for India. This memorial recommended the preparation of a series of Handbooks of Indian Zoology and my appointment as Editor. It is scarcely necessary to add that to the recommendation of men so highly respected and so well known in the world of Science the publication of the present Fauna of British India is greatly due, and that Mr. Sclater is entitled to the thanks of all interested in the Zoology of India for the important part he took in the transaction. I can only express a hope that the present series as a whole may be worthy of the distinguished support to which, in so great a degree, it owes its origin.

The idea was to cover initially the vertebrates, taking seven volumes, and this was followed by a proposal to cover the invertebrates in about 15 to 20 volumes and projected to cost £11,250 to £15,000. Blanford suggested that restricting it to 14 volumes would make it possible to limit the cost to £10,500.[5] After Blanford's death, Arthur Everett Shipley became the editor. The first series was followed by a second edition of some of the volumes such as the mammals, birds, reptiles and butterflies. In 1922-23, Nelson Annandale sought to move the process of preparation of the books and its publication to India.[6] The second edition is sometimes called the "new fauna". There were changes incorporated in this that included for instance the usage of trinomials for the birds. Following Shipley's death in 1927, Lieutenant Colonel John Stephenson, formerly of the Indian Medical Service was appointed editor in May 1928.[7][8] Publication was stopped during the Second World War.[9] After Indian Independence in 1947 a few volumes were published under the new name of Fauna of India but some of the volumes that were under preparation were never published. The 1953 volume on polychaetes by Pierre Fauvel was published by the Indian Press from Allahabad.


List of publications in the series in 1914. Average of £1 for each volume


Nematoda, Cestoda, Oligochaeta, Annelida etc.[edit]


Although these volumes were sanctioned, they were never published.[10]

  • Nilsson-Cantell, CA (?) Cirripedia
  • Chopra BN (?) Brachyura (Oxyrhyncha)
  • Seymour Sewell, RB (?) Copepoda (Calanoids)


  • Mortensen, Theodor Echinoidea (This was never produced due to the death of the author. See preface by R B Seymour Sewell in the 1953 Polychaeta volume.)






  • Fraser, F.C. (1933) Odonata. 1 Introduction, Coenagriidae 423 p
  • Fraser, F.C. (1934) Odonata. 2 Agriidae, Gomphidae 398 p - 120 figs - 4 col. pl.
  • Fraser, F.C. (1936) Odonata. 3 Cordulegasteridae, Aeshnidae, Libellulidae. 461 p.


Second edition


  • Shelford, R. Blattidae (sanctioned but not published)[11]


List of publications from 1936. Prices listed in Rupees
Sanctioned but not published
  • Beeson CFC Scolytidae
  • Beeson CFC Platypodidae
  • Stebbing, E.P. Buprestidae[11]



  • Sharif, M (?) Fleas.



Second edition

Reptilia and Amphibia[edit]

Second edition


  • Day, Francis (July 11, 1889) Fishes Volume I Chondropterygii, Teleoste (Physostomi; Acanthopterygii: Percidae)
  • Day, Francis (September 21, 1889) Fishes Volume II Teleostei (Acanthopterygii excl. Percidae; Anacanthini; Lophobranchii; Plectognathi), Leptocardii
Second edition
  • Hora, SL (?) (projected to be published in 5 volumes in 1953 but not published)


Second edition
  • Baker, Stuart (1922) Birds. 1 524 p
  • Baker, Stuart (1924) Birds. 2 606 p - 86 figs
  • Baker, Stuart (1926) Birds. 3 534 p
  • Baker, Stuart (1927) Birds. 4 471 p - 71 figs
  • Baker, Stuart (1928) Birds. 5 469 p - 49 figs
  • Baker, Stuart (1929) Birds. 6 548 p
  • Baker, Stuart (1930) Birds. 7 484 p (Synonymical catalogue Passeres-Grallae)
  • Baker, Stuart (1930) Birds. 8. 326 p (Synonymical catalogue Grallae - Pygopodes; Corrigenda and Addenda)


  • Blanford, WT (1888, 1891) Mammalia
    • Part 1 Primates, Carnivora, Insectivora
    • Part 2 Chiroptera, Rodentia, Ungulata, Cetacea, Sirenia, Edentata
Second edition


  1. ^ Talbot, G (1947) Butterflies Volume 2 issued in December 1947 includes a slip noting that the title should now read "...including Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma"
  2. ^ Kinnear, N.B. (1951). "The history of Indian mammalogy and ornithology. Part I. Mammals". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 50: 766–778.
  3. ^ Kinnear, N.B. (1952). "The history of Indian mammalogy and ornithology. Part II. Birds". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 51 (1): 104–110.
  4. ^ National Archives of India 1882 File:PR_000003043912 15 September 1881
  5. ^ National Archive of India PR_000003044449 1890 - Proposal of Mr W.T.Blanford for the publication of a second series of the "Fauna of British India" No. 74. India Office, London 21st November 1889
  6. ^ National Archives of India 1922 File:PR_000003005771 September 1922 Proposal to transfer the publication of the Fauna of British India Series to India. Nelson Annandale.
  7. ^ Prashad, Baini (1933). "Obituary. Lt.-Col. John Stephenson, IMS, CIE, FRS" (PDF). Current Science. 1: 270–271.
  8. ^ Baker, ECS (1928). Fauna of British India. Birds. Volume 5 (2 ed.). Taylor and Francis, London. p. iii.
  9. ^ "Future of Zoology in India". Nature. 145 (3666): 163. 1940. Bibcode:1940Natur.145..163.. doi:10.1038/145163a0. ISSN 0028-0836.
  10. ^ Sewell, RB Seymour (1953) Preface to the Fauna of India. Polychaeta
  11. ^ a b Lefroy, HM (1910) Review. Fauna of British India. Burr, H.M. JBNHS 20:203-204

External links[edit]