10 July 2012

"Prickly Pears and Pagodas"

A month ago, my latest non-fiction article, "Prickly Pears and Pagodas," was published by Wiley in The Historian.  Here's a link to the article, but if you want to read the whole thing, be aware that it's not free:

"Prickly Pears and Pagodas"

This article traces the history of the East India Company's efforts to replicate Mexico's cochineal dye industry - a rather well-financed project that dragged on for nearly 15 years and ended in complete commercial failure.  However, the story is an interesting one, and it tells us a lot about the Company's endeavors regarding economic botany.

My research for this article also inspired the important character of Mr. Berry, the naturalist who befriends Henry at Kew Gardens before sailing off to India with him.  There was, in fact, a real Mr. Berry involved in the cochineal scheme, who worked as a botanist for the East India Company.  My character is based in part on this historical individual.

Note:  Yes, the name of the author of this article is not William Lailey, but it's still me.  I have published under different names, at different times, and I use different names for my academic work and my fiction.

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