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John Innes Foundation Collection of Rare Botanical Books

The John Innes Foundation Collection of Rare Botanical Books at the John Innes Centre in Norwich ranks highly among collections of a similar nature.  Most of the items were acquired by William Bateson (1861-1926), pioneer geneticist and first Director of the John Innes Institute. The Rare Book Collection is regarded as particularly outstanding, not only because it embraces more than four centuries of botanical literature, but also because it houses many works that are landmarks in the history of plant science.

The rare books are part of the John Innes Foundation Historical Collections and are housed within the John Innes Library in purpose-built, environmentally controlled rooms, providing optimum conditions for the care, preservation and display of the material. The collections also include the History of Genetics Library and the John Innes Archives.


With support from the Wellcome Trust, the John Innes Foundation Historical Collections have recently launched an online catalogue detailing the archives of William Bateson (1861 – 1926) and Cyril Darlington (1903 – 1981).

Both were Directors of the John Innes Horticultural Institution, and made major discoveries which shaped the field of genetics in the early 20th century.

Find out more and browse the catalogue


Prints & notelets showing images from the collection are on sale to visitors of the Library.

At the Senior Librarian's discretion we also offer a reference-only service to unaffiliated, bona fide researches, including members of the general public. Group visits to view our collection of botanical books can be arranged through the enquiries desk.

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