Reeve, Lovell Augustus (DNB00)

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REEVE, LOVELL AUGUSTUS (1814–1865), conchologist, born at Ludgate Hill on 19 April 1814, was son of Thomas Reeve, draper and mercer, by his wife Fanny Lovell. After attending school at Stockwell, he was apprenticed at the age of thirteen to Mr. Graham, a grocer of Ludgate Hill. The accidental visit of a sailor to the shop with some shells, which Reeve purchased, led to his becoming a devoted student of conchology.

In 1833 he attended the meeting of the British Association at Cambridge, where he made further friends and acted as conchologist to the natural history section on its excursion into the Fens between Cambridge and Ely. On the expiration of his apprenticeship Reeve paid a visit to Paris, where he read a paper on the classification of mollusca before the Academy of Sciences.

On his return to London he set to work on his first book, ‘Conchologia Systematica’ (2 vols. 4to, London, 1841–2). The cost of its production absorbed his small patrimony, and he was compelled to make a fresh start in life. Out of the profits made by the sale of Governor-general Van Ryder's collection, which he purchased at Rotterdam, and with the assistance of friends, he opened a shop in King William Street, Strand, for the sale of natural history specimens and the publication of conchological works.

He was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society in 1846 and of the Geological Society in 1853, and he was honorary member of foreign scientific societies at Philadelphia, New York, Würtemberg, and Vienna. From 1850 to 1856 he was editor and proprietor of the ‘Literary Gazette.’ About 1848 he removed to Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, and though he subsequently resided at Wandsworth, at Hutton, near Brentwood, Essex, and at Sutton, near Hounslow, he returned to live at his place of business in 1864, and died there on 18 Nov. 1865.

Reeve married first, on 12 Oct. 1837, at St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street, Eliza Baker, a relative of Graham, his former master; and secondly, on 9 Jan. 1854, at Heacham, Norfolk, Martha Reeve.

Reeve's books were designed for the use of the shell-collector rather than the malacologist. Publication of his magnum opus, the ‘Conchologia Iconica,’ began in January 1843, and the work was at first executed by Reeve alone; afterwards he was assisted by George Brettingham Sowerby [q. v.], who drew the plates. Sowerby was also engaged to complete the work, from the fifteenth volume, after Reeve's death. The work was finished in 1878 in twenty volumes, containing 281 monographs of 289 genera, illustrated by 2,727 coloured plates, comprising, probably, not fewer than twenty-seven thousand figures of shells of the natural size. It will always remain a standard work, although many of the species which Reeve created are now held to be invalid. He was also author of: 1. ‘The Conchologist's Nomenclator’ (compiled conjointly with Miss Agnes Catlow), 8vo, London, 1845. 2. ‘Letter to the Earl of Derby on the Management, Character, and Progress of the Zoological Society of London,’ 8vo, London, 1846. 3. ‘Initiamenta Conchologica,’ 10 parts, 4to, London, 1846–60. 4. The section ‘Mollusca’ of the ‘Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Samarang’ (written in conjunction with A. Adams), 1848. 5. ‘Account of the Shells collected … N. of Beechey Island’ in Belcher's ‘The Last of the Arctic Voyages’ (vol. ii. 1855). 6. Synopsis of British seaweeds, compiled from Professor Harvey's ‘Phycologia Britannica,’ 8vo, London, 1857. 7. Notes of a photographic expedition in Jephson's ‘Narrative of a Walking Tour in Brittany,’ 1859. 8. ‘Elements of Conchology,’ 2 vols. 4to, London, 1860. 9. ‘The Land and Freshwater Mollusks indigenous to … the British Isles,’ 8vo, London, 1863. He edited ‘Literary papers by … Prof. E. Forbes,’ 8vo, London, 1835; ‘The Stereoscopic Magazine’ (1858–68); and ‘Portraits of Men of Eminence’ (vols. i. and ii. 1863) (this work was continued by E. Walford). Reeve also contributed seventy-eight papers (one in association with A. Adams) on conchological subjects to various scientific publications.

[Portraits of Men of Eminence, December 1865; Proc. Linn. Soc. 1865–6, p. lxxxiii; information kindly supplied by his son, Mr. J. L. Reeve; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Roy. Soc. Cat.]

B. B. W.