Biography of Frederick Orpen Bower
Frederick Orpen Bower, 1891
The Bower Building is named for Frederick Orpen Bower (1855-1948), Regius Professor of Botany at the University, 1885-1925.
Born in Ripon, Bower was educated at Trinity College Cambridge and graduated with first class honours in the Natural Sciences tripos. He became a lecturer at Christ's College, studied in Germany and lectured at University College, London.
In 1885 Bower accepted the Regius chair at the University. Under his energetic leadership, his department became a world leader in the study of morphological botany. Bower's department had only two rooms and an attic herbarium when he arrived in Glasgow, and he had to share a lecture theatre. In 1900, however, the new Botany Building was completed off University Avenue, providing the University with Britain's first botanical institute and some of the most advanced research facilities in the country. It was renamed in Bower's honour in the 1990s.
The books which originally formed the University’s Herbarium Library within the Bower Building were transferred to the Special Collections department in 2001 and have inherited the name the Bower Collection. The collection comprises of books dating from the 17th century onwards. Amongst the authors represented are famous names such as John Ray and Linnaeus, and a particular highlight is the substantial number of illustrated volumes containing work by renowned botanical artists such as James Sowerby. Although there are a number of continental imprints, the emphasis of the collection lies with British (and Scottish) plants. The University’s Archives holds a number of Bower’s personal papers including correspondence with colleagues worldwide, administrative records relating to the University’s Botany department and Bower’s teaching records.