The Society

Communicating Nature Since 1788

The Linnean Society of London is the world’s oldest active society devoted to natural history. Founded in 1788 by Sir James Edward Smith (1759–1828), who was its first President, the Society takes its name from the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778) whose botanical, zoological and library collections have been in our keeping since 1829. These unique collections are of continuing fundamental importance as a primary reference for naming of plants and animals. They are enhanced by the Society's own rich library which provides key resources for scientific and cultural research.

Our vision is a world where nature is understood, valued and protected. To do this we aim to inform, involve and inspire people about nature and its significance through our collections, events and publications. Thanks to the wide ranging expertise of our Fellowship and our unique collections, we are a hub for science communication through interdisciplinary learning and engagement.

The Society encourages the debate and discussion of natural history including taxonomy, evolutionary biology and ecology. We strongly support all efforts to address some of the most urgent issues facing the natural world, such as climate change and biodiversity loss. We also support the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We aspire to inspire by bringing together diverse communities and increasing engagement with scientists, historians, artists and all those interested in nature.

Vision, Mission and Values of the Linnean Society of London

Members (Fellows) come from all walks of life and include anyone passionate about the natural world. The Fellowship is international, and includes world leaders in natural history who use the Society's platforms to communicate advances in their fields. Support for those engaged in study of the natural world is given through our grant programmes, and recognition of excellence across a wide variety of fields through our medals and awards. We are committed to increasing the diversity of our Fellowship, and to providing opportunities for those usually excluded from the study and appreciation of natural history.