New Zealand Antique Prints
& Rare Books

The On-line

Prints may also be seen at:

New Zealand Birds’
(The Greytown Gallery)

65 Wood Street
Post Office Box 146
Greytown, 5742
New Zealand

Mobile: +64 (0)27 508 5078

Francis Orpen MORRIS (Reverend)  (1810–1893)

Benjamin FAWCETT  (1808–1893)

Francis Orpen Morris had a reputation as a popular writer on natural history in general and birds in particular. His first book had appeared as early as 1834,  A guide to an arrangement of British birds.

Benjamin Fawcett was one of the finest of the nineteenth century woodblock colour printers. Born in Bridlington in December 1808, he was the son of a ship’s master. In 1831 he set up in business as a bookseller, bookbinder, music seller, printer and stationer, in Middle Street, Driffield.

Morris and Fawcett's collaboration began in 1844 or 1845 and was to last nearly 50 years. Morris produced the text for books which Fawcett financed and printed. They were usually illustrated by AF (Frank) Lydon (1836-1917), who had started as one of Fawcett’s apprentices.

Printing was in colour. This was initially achieved by hand colouring wood-engraved illustrations, and later by printing in colours from multiple wood blocks. Most of the works were published by Groombridge, of London.

The first collaboration was probably Bible natural history, issued in sixpenny monthly parts in 1849, and completed in 1850. But their first great success was A History of British Birds, work on which probably began in 1848. Publication, which took over seven years to complete from June 1850, was undertaken in monthly parts costing one shilling. Each part contained 24 pages of letterpress and 4 hand-coloured plates. The final six volume work contained 358 coloured plates. One thousand copies of the first part were initially produced, but such was the demand that Fawcett quickly had to move into larger premises (East Lodge, Driffield). It was a resounding success.

British Birds was quickly followed by A Natural History of the Nests and Eggs of British Birds and A History of British Butterflies, followed later by A History of British Moths. The last collaboration between Fawcett, Morris and Lydon was The county seats of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland. This again ran to six volumes, each with 40 coloured plates, and text by Morris.

Morris became an early advocate for conservation and was instrumental in founding the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Lydon and Fawcett also colaborated on Charles Robert Bree's, A History of the Birds of Europe Not Observed in the British Isles, published in London in 1863.

The firm of Groombridge failed in about 1880, and it appears that neither Fawcett nor Morris made much money from their joint ventures.


Fine Bird Books, Francis Orpen Morris, p. 125, & Benjamin Fawcett, p. 77.


No engravings available at this time.