In the 1940s Heslop Harrison announced another discovery of rare plants. His colleagues were suspicious, many believed he had invented his discoveries and one accused him of being a fake. Nothing was heard for 50 years. Sabbagh uncovered the report and in this mix of detective story, social history and scientific investigation unravels the story.
The story of professor Heslop-Harrison, a distinguished academic at Newcastle University, who, over a period of years, strengthened the evidence for his theory of ice-age plant survival by "planting" flora in places where it had never been found before, and then "discovering" it. His nemesis came in the form of John Raven, a young classics don with a fierce passion for botany, who believed that he had caught the eminent professor red-handed on the isle of Rum in the summer of 1948. The scientific community closed ranks on the affair, Raven's evidence was never published, and Heslop-Harrison's continued to to dominate British botany for the next decade. This book tells the tragi-comic story.