Linnean Society of London

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Linnean Society of London
The Linnean Society.png
Formation 1788 (1788)
Type Learned society
Purpose Taxonomy & Natural History

The Linnean Society of London is a society for the study and dissemination of taxonomy and natural history.[1] It publishes several academic journals in plant and animal biology, and also issues The Linnean, a review of the history of the society and of taxonomy in general.


The Linnean Society, founded in 1788, took its name from the Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus after his ennoblement, Carl von Linné (hence the spelling Linnean, not "Linnaean").

Leading past Fellows of the Society included both Charles Darwin from 1854,[2] and his son Sir Francis Darwin from 1875.[citation needed]


Exterior of the Society's offices in Burlington House.

The Society is based at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. Membership requires nomination by at least two Fellows and election. Fellows use the designation FLS after their names.

Medals and prizes[edit]

The Linnean Society of London aims to promote the study of all aspects of the biological sciences, with particular emphasis on evolution, taxonomy, biodiversity, and sustainability. Through awarding medals and grants, the Society acknowledges and encourages excellence in all of these fields.[3]

The following medals and prizes are awarded by the Linnean Society:

  • Linnean Medal, established 1888, awarded annually to alternately a botanist or a zoologist or (as has been common since 1958) to one of each in the same year.
  • H. H. Bloomer Award, established 1963 from a legacy by the amateur naturalist Harry Howard Bloomer, awarded "an amateur naturalist who has made an important contribution to biological knowledge"
  • Bicentenary Medal, established 1978, on the 200th anniversary of the death of Linnaeus, "in recognition of work done by a person under the age of 40 years".
  • Jill Smythies Award, established 1986, awarded for botanical illustrations.
  • Irene Manton Prize, established 1990, for the best dissertation in botany during an academic year.
  • Darwin-Wallace Medal, for major advances in evolutionary biology.
  • Linnean Tercentenary Medal, established in 2007.
  • John C Marsden Medal, established 2012, for the best doctoral thesis in biology examined during a single academic year.
  • John Spedan Lewis Medal, established 2015, awarded to "an individual who is making a significant and innovative contribution to conservation".
  • Trail-Crisp Award, awarded "in recognition of an outstanding contribution to biological microscopy that has been published in the UK".


Linnaeus' botanical and zoological collections were purchased in 1783 by Sir James Edward Smith, the first President of the society, and are now held in London by the society. The collections include 14,000 plants, 158 fish, 1,564 shells, 3,198 insects, 1,600 books and 3,000 letters and documents. They may be viewed by appointment.

Smith's own plant collection is also held by the Society. It has been databased by the Smith Herbarium Project at the National Museums Liverpool. 6,000 specimens have been cleaned and repaired.

In December 2014, the society's collection was added to the list of nationally significant collections in England by the Arts Council England.[4]


The Linnean Society founded and published several journals that are still in publication: the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, focusing on evolutionary biology of all organisms, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, which focuses on plant sciences, and Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society focusing on animal systematics and evolution.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bristol botanist awarded prestigious medal for her contribution to natural history". University of Bristol. 24 May 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Freeman, R. B. (2007). Charles Darwin: A companion (2d online ed.). The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online. pp. 107, 109. 
  3. ^ "The Linnean Society of London: Medals and Prizes". Retrieved 2012-04-08. 
  4. ^ "Linnean Society Collection recognised for its national significance". 2014-12-11. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 

External links[edit]

Works related to Transactions of the Linnean Society of London at Wikisource Media related to Linnean Society of London at Wikimedia Commons