Cover image for Writings and drawings
Writings and drawings
Audubon, John James, 1785-1851.
Uniform Title:
Works. Selections. 1999
Publication Information:
New York : Library of America : Distributed to the trade in the U.S. by Penguin Putnam, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 942 pages, 64 pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 21 cm.
General Note:
"Christoph Irmscher selected the contents and wrote the notes for this volume"--P. [vii].
Mississippi River journal -- From 1826 journal -- From Ornithological biography -- Delineations of American scenery and manners -- Missouri River journals -- Other writings -- Letters.
Added Title:
Mississippi River journal.

1826 journal.

Ornithological biography.

Missouri River journals.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL31.A9 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The breathtaking art of John James Audubon's Birds of America has been celebrated throughout the world since it first appeared over 150 years ago. Less well known is Audubon's literary legacy: the magnificent volumes of natural history he published during his lifetime, as well as the remarkable journals, memoirs, and letters left behind at his death. In this unprecedented collection from The Library of America, Audubon the great nature writer takes his rightful place alongside Audubon the artist.

Here is the most comprehensive selection of Audubon's writings ever published, along with a spectacular portfolio of his drawings. The "Mississippi River Journal," the foremost record of an American artist's progress, details Audubon's first wilderness bird hunts; it is as fresh in its perceptions of the scenes and characters of the old South as of the forest and its creatures. Selections from his "1826 Journal" follow Audubon to Europe, where after years of relative obscurity and financial distress his abilities were finally recognized. Audubon's masterwork, the five-volume Ornithological Biography , is represented here by forty-five entries. Charming, haunting, and violent by turns, these vivid intimate portraits of the habits and habitats of American birds changed American nature writing forever.

In the "Missouri River Journals," Audubon evokes the vanishing American Indian and the hardships of frontier life. An extensive selection of letters charting twenty years of Audubon's artistic development, along with two essays on artistic technique and a brief memoir, round out the volume. Whenever possible, texts have been painstakingly prepared from original sources, without censorship or modernizing revision, constituting a major contribution to Audubon scholarship. Detailed general and ornithological indexes aid the reader in the field as well as in the study.

Sixty-four full-color plates and several manuscript sketches, some never before published, offer a unique perspective on Audubon's art. Including original watercolors, aquatint engravings and lithographs, they reveal the evolution of his compositions and the effects of his collaborations with his publishers in ways never before seen.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation's literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America's best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

Author Notes

The American ornithologist John James Audubon was born in 1785 in Haiti. His boyhood was spent in France. At the age of 18, he came to the United States and made his home in Pennsylvania.. As a young man, Audubon enjoyed observing birds. He organized the first bird-banding flights in the United States. In the 1830s, Audubon traveled to Florida and spent most of his time in the Florida Keys. Soon he conceived the idea of painting every species of American bird in its native habitat. To accomplish that goal, Audubon spent years traveling through wilderness areas enduring incredible hardships. His drawings and paintings of birds and other animals represent a combination of artistic talent and scientific observation.

Unable to provide financially for his family, Audubon went to Great Britain in search of a publisher in 1826. Not only did he succeed in getting his work published there, Audubon also was made a member of the Wernerian Natural History Society and of the Royal Society. The Birds of America, in elephant folio size, was published in parts between 1827 and 1938. The accompanying five-volume text, called Ornithological Biography (1831--39), was prepared largely in Edinburgh, Scotland, in collaboration with William MacGillivray.

Returning to the United States in 1836, Audubon dined with President Andrew Jackson and received a warm welcome from Daniel Webster and Washington Irving. While Audubon's drawings of birds and other animals were exceptional as art, they also influenced ornithologists and other zoologists to observe wildlife in natural settings.

Audubon died in 1851. Audubon's two sons completed the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, which Audubon had begun in collaboration with John Bachman.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Table of Contents

Mississippi River Journalp. 1
from 1826 Journalp. 157
from Ornithological Biography
The Wild Turkey (Plate 1: Wild Turkey)p. 195
Purple Grakle or Common Crow-Blackbird (Plate 2: Common Grackle)p. 211
The Bird of Washington (Plate 3: Bald Eagle)p. 217
The Great-footed Hawk (Plate 8: Peregrine Falcon)p. 222
The Mocking Bird (Plate 4: Northern Mockingbird)p. 227
The Carolina Parrot (Plates 5, 6, 7: Carolina Parakeet)p. 233
The White-headed Eagle (Plates 10, 11: Bald Eagle)p. 238
The Ruby-throated Humming Bird (Plate 9: Ruby-throated Hummingbird)p. 248
The Red-tailed Hawk (Plate 12: Red-tailed Hawk)p. 254
The Passenger Pigeon (Plates 14, 15: Passenger Pigeon)p. 260
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Plates 16, 17: Ivory-billed Woodpecker)p. 269
The Wood Thrush (Plates 18, 19: Wood Thrush)p. 275
The Fish Hawk, or Osprey (Plate 13: Osprey)p. 278
The Broad-winged Hawk (Plate 20: Broad-winged Hawk)p. 285
The Blue Jay (Plate 21: Blue Jay)p. 288
The Black Vulture or Carrion Crow (Plates 22, 24: Black Vulture)p. 293
The Pileated Woodpecker (Plate 25: Pileated Woodpecker)p. 314
The Mississippi Kite (Plate 23: Mississippi Kite)p. 319
The Pewee Flycatcher (Plates 26, 27: Eastern Phoebe)p. 324
The Snowy Owl (Plate 28: Snowy Owl)p. 333
The American Sparrow-Hawk (Plate 29: American Kestrel)p. 336
The American Crow (Plate 30: American Crow)p. 341
The Chimney Swallow, or American Swift (Plate 31: Chimney Swift)p. 348
The Golden Eagle (Plate 32: Golden Eagle)p. 354
The Canada Goose (Plate 33: Canada Goose)p. 359
The Clapper Rail, or Salt-water Marsh-Hen (Plate 34: Clapper Rail)p. 378
The Great Blue Heron (Plates 35, 47: Great Blue Heron)p. 384
The Puffin (Plate 36: Atlantic Puffin)p. 393
The Razor-billed Auk (Plate 37: Razorbill)p. 399
The Wood Ibis (Plate 38: Wood Stork)p. 404
Louisiana Heron (Plate 40: Tricolored Heron)p. 410
The Mallard (Plate 41: Mallard)p. 414
The White Ibis (Plate 42: White Ibis)p. 422
The Whooping Crane (Plate 39: Whooping Crane)p. 429
The Long-billed Curlew (Plate 43: Long-billed Curlew)p. 440
The Snowy Heron (Plate 44: Snowy Egret)p. 445
The Brown Pelican (Plates 45, 46: Brown Pelican)p. 448
The Great White Heron (Plate 47: Great Blue Heron)p. 457
Blue Heron (Plate 48: Little Blue Heron)p. 466
Blue-winged Teal (Plate 49: Blue-winged Teal)p. 473
Anhinga or Snake-Bird (Plates 50, 51: Anhinga)p. 477
American Avoset (Plate 56: American Avocet)p. 498
Great American Egret (Plate 52: Great Egret)p. 503
Trumpeter Swan (Plates 54, 55: Trumpeter Swan)p. 508
American Flamingo (Plate 53: Greater Flamingo)p. 515
Delineations of American Scenery and Manners
The Ohiop. 520
The Prairiep. 524
The Original Painterp. 528
Louisville in Kentuckyp. 533
The Eccentric Naturalistp. 537
Pitting of Wolvesp. 543
Breaking Up of the Icep. 547
Missouri River Journalsp. 551
Other Writings
Account of the Method of Drawing Birds employed by J. J. Audubon, Esq. F. R. S. E., In a Letter to a Friendp. 753
My Style of Drawing Birdsp. 759
Myselfp. 765
To Lucy Audubon, December 9, 1826p. 797
To Lucy Audubon, May 15, 1827p. 803
To Lucy Audubon, August 6, 1827p. 806
To Lucy Audubon, November 2, 1828p. 811
To Lucy Audubon, May 10, 1829p. 814
To Lucy Audubon, October 23, 1831p. 819
To Robert Havell, April 20, 1833p. 820
To Victor G. Audubon, September 15, 1833p. 822
To John Bachman, August 25, 1834p. 825
To John Bachman, December 3, 1834p. 830
To John Bachman, April 20, 1835p. 832
To John Bachman, January 22, 1836p. 835
To John Bachman, February 24, 1837p. 839
To John Bachman, October 4, 1837p. 842
To John Bachman, April 14, 1838p. 848
To Robert Havell, March 13, 1839p. 851
To John Bachman, January 2, 1840p. 853
To John Bachman, November 12, 1843p. 856
Chronologyp. 861
Note on the Textsp. 870
Note on the Platesp. 876
Notesp. 883
General Indexp. 912
Ornithological Indexp. 931