Sylvanus Charles Thorp Hanley

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Sylvanus Charles Thorp Hanley (1819–1899) was a British conchologist [1] and malacologist who published the first book on shells using the then new technique of photography. He authored Conchologia indica with William Theobald which was a treatise on the shells of British India. The plates were drawn and lithographed by George Brettingham Sowerby the younger, who was well known for writing and illustrating excellent works of natural history, especially conchological works. Sowerby became the best illustrator of conchological works of his time, illustrating such classics as Reeve's monumental twenty-volume Conchologia Iconica.


Sylvanus Hanley inherited a fortune, which enabled him to devote a lifetime to conchology. He was especially interested in the bivalves, on which he was a leading authority. He published over 40 books and scientific papers, and described over 200 new species. [2] Hanley collected molluscs extensively; most of his collections are today held at Leeds City Museum in Yorkshire, England. Hanley collected over a period of 60 years, and corresponded frequently with many other naturalists of his time. He acquired several specimens of Unio, now extinct, for Isaac Lea. Several syntypes were collected by him for other leading contemporary biologists, including Arthur Adams, W.H. Dall, Henry B. Guppy, Richard Brinsley Hinds, Jeffries, Leath, Sven Ludvig Lovén, George Montagu, William Harper Pease, Rodolfo Amando Philippi and Tryon Reakirt. [2]

The Hanley Collections, as it is called, forms one of the largest collections in Leeds City Museum, occupying 13 cabinets and 206 drawers. [2]

Hanley Road and the now-lost Sylvanus Row, both in Islington, were named in honour of his father. [3] His son was the painter Edgar Wilkins Hanley (1855–1886).


Exotic conchology 1841 Exotic conchology (10154793164).jpg
Exotic conchology 1841

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  1. Entry at the UK National Archives
  2. 1 2 3 The Leeds Molluscan Collections: A Report by the Curator of the Leeds Museum PDF
  3. Willats, Eric (2017). The Book of Islington (PDF) (revised, digital ed.). Islington Heritage Service.