Linnaeus the teacher

Already as a young student Linnaeus proved to be an unusual and fascinating lecturer. As a professor he continued to spellbind.

Linnaeus arranged natural history excursions around Uppsala, the so-called Herbationes Upsalienses. These excursions were so popular that several hundred students would take part. During the whole day Linnaeus and his companions would collect plants, animals and minerals.

Linnaeus the teacher. 19th century lithograph at
Linnaeus’ Hammarby.

To study birds close-up, they had to be shot down since binoculars were not so effective in those days. When the evening came, the group of students would come wandering back to Uppsala, flowers in their hair, playing on drums and trumpets, with Linnaeus at their head: a field marshal commanding Flora's army! On arriving at his home, his students would cheer their beloved professor. Several of the university's other professors were not so pleased with Linnaeus’ educational methods.

When Linnaeus received his private pupils at Hammarby, they were asked to come early in the morning and he would then step out of his house dressed only in his nightgown and nightcap on the pretext that "Nature does not wait for powder and wigs"!

Linnaeus was not afraid to lecture, in great detail, on man's sexual life and cheerfully mixed facts with humour in a daring, even coarse way. The lectures were called "On how to come together".

Linnaeus was a very prominent teacher. Twenty three of his pupils became professors and about twenty were given the chance to take part in important expeditions to every corner of the world. Daniel Solander and Anders Sparrman accompanied Captain Cook on his expeditions to the Pacific. Carl Peter Thunberg published the first flora of the plants of Japan and South Africa. Just to mention a few names.

Last modified: 2021-11-03