Nicolas-Edme Roret: Insects and Natural History Manuals

Atlas des insectes, composé de 110 planches, représentant la plupart des insectes décrits dans le Manuel d’histoire naturelle et dans le Manuel d’entomologie [Translation: Atlas of insects, consisting of 110 plates, representing most of the insects described in the Natural History Manual and the Manual of Entomology] was digitized from the Library of Congress (LC)’s collection on May 1st, 2012 by the Internet Archive and included in the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL).

One of the oldest publications scanned from the LC’s collections and added to BHL, this early natural history publication includes 110 plates of various insects. The publisher, Nicolas-Edme Roret, is a French publisher most known for an important series of manuals (Encyclopédie Roret or Manuels Roret), which are dedicated to diverse subjects including science, art, crafts, culture, and more. Atlas des insectes illustrates many of the insects described in Pierre Boitard’s Manuel d’entomologie, ou Histoire naturelle des insectes (1828) – which it was meant to accompany – as part of Roret’s Manuels. The text and plates were republished as new editions within L’Encyclopédie Roret in 1843 and 1844 (respectively).

Roret moved to Paris while he was a still young man to work in the library of his brother, Pierre-Jean Ferra. In 1815, he obtained a position at a large library of the Palais Royal, in Arthus-Bertrand, where he was assigned to be the chief clerk. He then moved on to become a bookseller and a licensed publisher in 1820 (license No 1419). In 1822, with his experience as a licensed publisher, Roret became an editor and published a variety of natural history books. His projects were often funded by his cousin Pierre Deterville, another bookseller and publisher. Deterville held rare natural history texts including those of Buffon (1707-1788), Jean Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Roret also edited and published Suites à Buffon (also issued under the title of Nouvelles Suites à Buffon), which involved naturalists such as Pierre André Latreille (1762-1833), Charles-Nicolas-Sigisbert Sonnini Manoncourt (1751-1812), Charles-François Brisseau Mirbel (1776-1854), Louis Augustin Guillaume Bosc (1759-1828) and René Richard Castel Louis (1758-1832).


Reference: Bulletin des Bibliothèques de France : 1997 – Paris, t. 42, n° 02.; Le Vitrail et les traités du Moyen Âge à nos jours. Corpus Vitrearum. XXIIIe colloque international. Tours 3-7 Juillet 2006.

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Tomoko Steen is the ST&B Research Specialist at the Library of Congress. She is also the Library of Congress Member Representative to BHL.