Book Choice for A Town Explores A Book 2025

Iguanodon Teeth image from Gideon Mantell's paper
The illustrated plate at the end of the transcript of Gideon Mantell's speech which he names the Iguanodon. The drawings show the fossilised teeth found in East Sussex.
Engraving of Gideon Mantell
Gideon Mantell gave his speech to the Royal Society on 10 February 1825 in which he named the Iguanodon species. In entries in Mantell's journal, Hastings is first mentioned in 1830. Mantell caught a train to St Leonards-on-Sea in 1848 and mentions Beckles in a few entries, an associate who lived at 9 Grand Parade in St Leonards-on-Sea.

Marking the bicentenary of the naming of the Iguanodon, the Royal Society grants permission for an A Town Explores A Book 2025 edition of palaeontologist Gideon Mantell’s paper in which he names the fossil reptile found in Sussex. He presented this paper at the Royal Society in  1825, that’s 17 years before the name ‘dinosaur’ came into use, an umbrella term coined by Sir Richard Owen.

Our ATEAB25 festival edition of Mantell’s writing will include the illustrated plate at the end of the paper of drawings of the Iguanodon teeth that Gideon Mantlell found. Or did his wife actually find them? That’s a story we’ll be delving into in ATEAB25.

We’ll also be scrutinising the barriers Gideon Mantell faced in his career as the son of a cobbler and his disability later in life.

A key focus for 2025 will be book illustrations. Illustrated plates from Mantell’s other publications will be included in the 2025 festival edition encouraging the festival community to engage with sketches of fossils and natural materials and to sketch themselves.

The story of the dinosaur fossil found in a Hollington quarry after the decades in which Gideon Mantell worked is yet another aspect of the 2025 exploration. Named Igaunodon Hollingtoniensis in 1889, the categorisation was subsequently changed reflecting the fact that palaeontology is a relatively recent science and discoveries are constantly being made that necessitate rethinking of earlier definitions of species.

So, there’s lots to get our teeth into, excuse the pun. The #Iguanodon200 anniversary will be celebrated throughout the country and the festival team working with partner Phil Hadland hope to be the connecting organisation, here in St Leonards-on-Sea in East Sussex, linking events up.

Other partners will be announced shortly in a festival year that will offer opportunity to be planet advocates as we consider heritage writing in which our understanding of the planet is evolving.