Lindley, John

views updated Jun 11 2018

Lindley, John

(b. Cation, near Norwich, England, 5 February 1799; d. Turnham Green, Middlesex, England, 1 November 1865),

botany, horticulture.

A man endowed with an extraordinary capacity for work and a restless, aggressive, untiring intellect, who attained distinction in all his varied activities, Lindley was among the most industrious, many-sided and productive of the nineteenth-century botanists. As administrator, professor, horticulturist, taxonomist, editor, journalist, author, and botanical artist he used to the full his time, his abundant energy, and his remarkable talents, with lasting beneficial results in many fields of botany and horticulture. His major botanical contribution was to the study of orchids.

His father, George Lindley, a skilled but financially unsuccessful nurseryman, could not afford to buy his son an officer’s commission in the army or a university education but gave him a good schooling in Norwich to the age of sixteen. Young Lindley then went to Belgium as a British seedsman’s representative. He early displayed his remarkable powers of sustained work by translating into English at one silting L. C. M. Richard’s Démonstrations botaniques, ou Analyse du Fruit (1808), published in 1819 as Observations on the Structure of Seeds and Fruits. In 1818 or 1819 he entered the employment of Sir Joseph Banks as an assistant in the latter’s rich library and herbarium, working there for eighteen months with Robert Brown. Banks died in 1820. The Horticultural Society of London had commissioned Lindley in that year to draw some single roses, and in 1822 he entered its service as assistant secretary of its newly established Chiswick garden, thus beginning an association of forty-three years. His early publications, for which Banks’s library and herbarium provided facilities then unrivaled, included Rasarum monographic (1820), Digitalium monographia (1821), Collectanea botanka (1821-1825) and a Survey of the Rosaceae Subfamily Pomoideae (Pomaceae), published in Transactions of the Limnean Society of London (13 [1821], 88-106), in which he established the genera Chaenotneles, Osteometes, Eriobotrya, Photinia, Chamaemeles, and Raphiolepis, all still accepted. Together with contributions to the Botanical Register (beginning with volume 5, plate 385, August 1819), they quickly won him an international reputation.

These youthful publications displayed remarkable taxonomic judgment, detailed observation, and precision of language in both English and Latin, In 1828, despite his lack of a university education, Lindley was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London and appointed professor of botany in the newly founded University of London, giving his inaugural lecture in April 1829. He did not, however, relinquish his employment by the Horticultural Society, of which he became general assistant secretary in 1827 and secretary in 1858; indeed, he carried a heavy load of responsibility and made important innovations during the society’s troubled years. Late in 1832 the University of Munich, at the instigation of Martius, enterprisingly conferred an honorary Ph.D. upon Lindley. In 1838 he prepared the report on the management of the royal gardens at Kew which led ultimately to the foundation of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, as a national botanical institution.

Time-consuming though his official duties and public activities certainly were, Lindley nevertheless managed to prepare the specific characters for the 16,712 species of flowering plants and cryptogams included in John Loudon’s Encyclopaedia of Plants (1829) and to produce a series of well-documented, clearly written, authoritative educational publications, including An Introduction to Botany (1832; 2nd ed., 1835; 3rd ed., 1839; 4th ed., 1848), of permanent value for its botanical vocabulary (reprinted in W. T. Stearn, Botanical Latin [1966], pp. 314-353, and elsewhere), Flora medlca (1838), School Botany (1839; 12th ed., 1862), and The Theory of Horticulture (1840; 2nd ed., entitled The Theory and Practice of Horticulture, 1855), which Lindley himself considered his best book. He also managed to engage in research, notably in paleobotany, to which Lindley and Hutton’s Fossil Flora of Great Britain (3 vols., 1831-1837) bears witness, and in orchidoJogy. During Lindley’s lifetime European penetration into the moist tropics abounding with Orchidaceae, the employment of professional plant collectors by European nurseries, swifter transport by sea, improved methods of greenhouse construction and management, and the social prestige associated with orchid-growing by the aristocracy and gentry of Britain, who spent vast sums on this, led to the introduction and successful cultivation of orchids in unprecedented quantity and diversity. They became Lindley’s major botanical specialty, and he became the leading authority on their classification. Ultimately he established more than 120 genera of Orchidaceae, among them Cattleya, Cirrhopetalum, Coelogyne, Laelia, Lycaste, and Sophronitis; described many hundreds of new species; and produced three major works; Genera and Species of Orchidaceous Plants (1830-1840), Sertum orchidaceum (1838), and Folia orchidacea (1852-1855), as well as many articles in periodicals.

As a young man Lindley campaigned vigorously against the artificial “sexual system” of classification of plants introduced by Linnaeus and in favor of a more natural system, as propounded by A, L. de Jussieu and A. P. de Candolle and improved in detail by Robert Brown. On his appointment as a professor, he immediately prepared for the use of students A Synopsis of the British Flora, Arranged According to the Natural Orders (1829; 2nd ed., 1835; 3 rd ed., 1841), the second account of British plants thus classified. In 1830 he published Introduction to the Natural System of Botany which was the first work in English to give descriptions of the families (then called “natural orders”) on a worldwide basis; it embodied detailed, firsthand observations of their representatives in the garden and herbarium. Uninfluenced by theories of evolution, and hence without thought of phylogeny, Lindley regarded the characters of plants as “the living Hieroglyphics of the Almighty which the skill of man is permitted to interpret. The key to their meaning lies enveloped in the folds of the Natural System.” This he continuously sought to unfold, with but partial success. He took the view that “the investigation of structure and vegetable physiology are the foundation of all sound principles of classification,” that within the vegetable kingdom “no sections are capable of being positively defined, except as depend upon physiological peculiarities,” and that “physiological characters are of greater importance in regulating the natural classification than structural.”

This emphasis led Lindley astray and resulted in major classifications which he himself never found wholly satisfactory, since he changed them from work to work, and which other botanists accepted only in part. Because, however, he also believed “that the affinities of plants may be determined by a consideration of all the points of resemblance between their various parts, properties and qualities; and that thence an arrangement may be deduced in which these species will be placed next each other which have the highest degree of relationship,” he gave attention to a much wider range of characters than did many of his contemporaries. Such information, derived from Lindley’s profound and extensive observation of plants and a thorough study of available literature, made his Introduction to the Natural System (374 pages, 1830) and its enlarged successors, A Natural System of Botany (526 pages, 1836) and The Vegetable Kingdom (908 pages, with more than 500 illustrations, 1846; 3rd ed,, 1853), reference works long unrivaled for matters of detail. In the 1836 work Lindley introduced a nomenclatural reform by proposing it divisions of the same hierarchical standing should have names formed in the same distinctive way, with terminations indicative of these divisions. Thus he consistently used the termination “-aceae” for names of natural orders (now called “families”), replacing, for example, “Umbelliferae” by “Apiaceae” (from opium, celery) and “Leguminosae” by “Fabaeeae” (from faba, broad bean), and the termination “-ales” for alliances (now called “orders”); this became the internationally followed procedure.

In his youth Lindley gallantly but unwisely assumed responsibility for his father’s heavy debts, and their redemption burdened him for many years. Hence, driven partly by financial necessity, he took on ever more tasks and duties without relinquishing those he already had. In 1826, for example, he became de facto editor of Botanical Register; in 1836, superintendent of the Chelsea Physic Garden; in 1841, horticultural editor of Gardener’s Chronicle. Between 1833 and 1840 he completed Sibthorp and Smith’s magnificent Flora Graeca (see Taxon, 16 [1967], 168-178); he also wrote innumerable botanical articles in the Penny Cyclopaedia, For the London exhibition of 1862 he took charge of the Colonial Department, the load of manifold onerous activities had now become too great even for a man of his sturdy constitution and stubborn, determined mind. In 1862 his health declined, and Lindley had reluctantly to give up posts he had so honorably and industriously held over many years. In 1865 he died, within a few months of his lifelong friends William Jackson Hooker and Joseph Paxton. His orchid herbarium was acquired by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; his general herbarium by the department of botany, University of Cambridge. His private library, very rich in botanical tracts and pamphlets, became the foundation of the Lindley Library of the Royal Horticultural Society of London, of which he had been so long an efficient servant.


I. Original Works. Lindley’s books are listed in the text. There is a more detailed list in the Royal Horticultural Society, The Lindley Library Catalogue (London, 1927), pp. 256-257. His contributions to periodicals other than the numerous articles in the Botanical Register and the Gardeners’ Chronicle are listed in the Royal Society of London, Catalogue of Scientific Papers 1800-1863, IV , 31-32. An unpublished “Bibliography of the Published Works of John Lindley,” compiled by J. M. Allford in 1953, lists 236 publications (including eds.) by Lindiey. His first publication, “a most ingenious and elaborate description by Mr Lindley, junior” of Maranta zebrina, appeared in Botanical Register, 5 , pl. 385 (Aug. 1819) and was followed by the text to pls. 397, 404, 419, 420, 425, 430,431 (1819-1820). He was officially editor of the Botanical Register from vol. 16 (1829) to vol. 33 (1847) but contributed most of the articles from vol. 11 (1825) on. Many letters to and from Lindley are at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

II. Secondary Literature. The major sources of biographical information are the obituary in Gardeners’ Chronicle (1865), 1058-1059, 1082-1083; W. Gardener, “John Lindley,” ibid., 158 (1965), 386, 406, 409, 430, 434, 451, 457, 481, 502, 507, 526; and F. Keeble, “John Lindley,” in F. W. Oliver, ed., Makers of British Botany (London, 1912), 164-177. J. R. Green, A History of Botany in the United Kingdom (London, 1914), pp. 336-353, gives a fair assessment of Lindley’s scientific work. H. R. Fletcher, The Story of the Royal Horticultural Society 1804-1968 (London, 1969), contains many references to Lindiey in connection with the Society’s affairs. Lindley’s part in the 1838 committee of inquiry into the management of the Royal Gardens at Kew is summarized by W. T. Stearn, “The Self-Taught Botanists Who Saved the Kew Botanic Garden,” in Taxon, 14 (Dec. 1965), 293-298.

William T. Stearn

Lindley, John 1952–

views updated May 11 2018

LINDLEY, John 1952–

(John W. Lindley)


Born 1952, in New York, NY; mother, a literary agent; married; wife's name, Kimberly; children: three. Education: New York University, B.A., 1973.


Agent—Skouras Agency, 1149 Third St., Third Floor, Santa Monica, CA 90403.


Cinematographer. Perritti Productions, director of television commercials, 1999; cinematographer for television commercials; also worked as a camera operator and a production assistant.


American Society of Cinematographers.

Awards, Honors:

Video Music Award nominations (with others), best video of the year and best concept video, both 1986, for the Talking Heads music video "Road to Nowhere"; Golden Satellite Award nomination, International Press Academy, best motion picture cinematography, and Online Film Critics Society Award nomination, best cinematography, both 1999, for Pleasantville.


Film Cinematographer:

Different Drummer—Elvin Jones (documentary), 1979.

He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin' (documentary), 1983.

The Goodbye People, Embassy, 1984.

Lilly in Love (also known as Playing for Keeps and Jatszani kell), New Line Cinema, 1985.

Home of the Brave: A Film by Laurie Anderson (also known as Home of the Brave), Cinecom International, 1986.

Killer Party (also known as The April Fool), Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1986.

In the Mood (also known as The Woo Woo Kid), Lorimar, 1987.

(As John W. Lindley) The Stepfather (also known as Stepfather I), New Century/Vista, 1987.

The Serpent and the Rainbow, Universal, 1988.

Shakedown (also known as Blue Jean Cop), Universal, 1988.

Field of Dreams, Universal, 1989.

(As John W. Lindley) Immediate Family, Columbia, 1989.

True Believer (also known as Fighting Justice), Columbia, 1989.

Vital Signs, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1990.

Father of the Bride, Buena Vista, 1991.

Sleeping with the Enemy, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1991.

Sneakers, Universal, 1992.

(With Ken Zunder) The Good Son, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1993.

I Love Trouble, Buena Vista, 1994.

Money Train, Sony Pictures Releasing, 1995.

Michael, New Line Cinema, 1996.

Pleasantville (also known as Color of Heart), New Line Cinema, 1998.

You've Got Mail (also known as You Have Mail and You've Got [email protected]), Warner Bros., 1998.

Lucky Numbers (also known as Le bon numero), Paramount, 2000.

The Sum of All Fears (also known as Der Anschlag), Paramount, 2002.

The Core (also known as Core), Paramount, 2003.

The Last Shot, Buena Vista, 2004.

Bewitched, Columbia, 2005.

Film Production Assistant:

Doc, United Artists, 1971.

Film Appearances:

(Uncredited) Sleeping with the Enemy, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1991.

Television Cinematographer; Series:

(With others) Nurse, CBS, 1981–82.

Television Cinematographer; Miniseries:

Middletown, PBS, 1981.

Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story, NBC, 1987.

Television Cinematographer; Movies:

The Gentleman Bandit (also known as The Bandit Priest), 1981.

The Demon Murder Case (also known as The Rhode Island Murders), 1983.

Girls of the White Orchid (also known as Death Ride to Osaka), 1983.

An Invasion of Privacy, 1983.

The Baron and the Kid, 1984.

Badge of the Assassin, 1985.

Rockabye, CBS, 1986.

LBJ: The Early Years, NBC, 1987.

A Stranger Waits, CBS, 1987.

(And second unit director) Freedom Song, TNT, 2000.

Television Cinematographer; Specials:

Andrea Doria: The Final Chapter, 1981.

"Amy and the Angel," ABC Afterschool Specials, ABC, 1982.

Middletown: Second Time Around, 1982.

Television Camera Operator; Specials:

Einstein on the Beach: The Changing Image of Opera, PBS, 1986.


Music Video Cinematographer:

Talking Heads, "Road to Nowhere," 1985.



Premiere, April, 1991, pp. 50–51.

Shoot, February 12, 1999, p. 7.

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