E
LFORTIANA              
            

                          Elfortania is a group of drawings inspired by the puzzling anagrammatic nomenclature of 19th century British naturalist
                          William Elford Leach (1791-1836).

                          In 1818, the Dictionnaire des Sciences Naturelle in France published Leach’s first entries on Crustacea. Amongst these
                          descriptions was a “tantalizing puzzle for posterity.”  In his entry, Leach named nine new genera of parasitic isopods,
                          each name created from anagrams of ‘Caroline’ or ‘Carolina’. 1 These genera were Anilocra, Canolira, Cirolana,
                          Conilera, Lironeca,
2 Nelocira, Nerocila, Olencira, and Rocinela.

                          But who was Caroline?

                          There are no known relationships between Elford Leach and any Caroline; he was not married and his closest female
                          relative was his sister, Jenny.  Arguments have been made that the anagram was inspired by Queen Caroline,
                          astronomer Caroline Herschel, or an unknown mistress. 3 It has even been suggested that there was no Caroline
                          at all and that it was a nonsensical combination and rearrangement of vowels and consonants. 4 However, Leach’s
                          biographer, Keith Harrison has dismissed this as too improbable because of the very deliberate way in which the names
                          were created. 5

                          The mystery of Leach’s anagram has fascinated people for nearly two hundred years. Subsequent authors, charmed by
                          the puzzle, have even continued in Leach’s footsteps and created names for genera with new anagrams of ‘Caroline’.
                          Names have included Renocila (Miers, 1880), Corilana (Kossman, 1880), Alcirona (Hansen, 1890), Lanocira (Hansen, 1890),
                          Nalicora
(Moore, 1902), Orcilana (Nierstrasz, 1931), Creniola (Bruce, 1987) and Norileca (Bruce, 1990). 6
                          I was intrigued by this puzzle and decided to do my own research, thinking that I may uncover some as yet unknown Caroline.

                          In my studies, though, I did not discover any truly convincing examples of Carolines in Leach’s life and I was beginning to
                          agree that, “The search, without further evidence, is too difficult. Perhaps from [this] distance we shall never know who
                          Elford Leach’s Caroline was or why she was so important to him….” 7 However, I was rather discontent with that
                          conclusion. I began to wonder if there was indeed no ‘Caroline’, but that the names were still intentional anagrams of
                          someone or something else. Elfortiana is the culmination of my research.

                          This series of drawings includes examples of the nine genera and illustrates the existing suggestions about Leach’s names
                          and my own new theories. I feel that the overwhelming general opinion that the genera are anagrams of a woman named
                          ‘Caroline’ or ‘Carolina’ is too narrow a view. As an anagram, the possibilities are almost innumerable. With Leach’s
                          dedication to his work and zoological research, it seems entirely more reasonable for the anagram to be derived from
                          natural history or to at least follow similar patterns found in his other names.

                          Existing theories include three Carolines for the origin of the anagrams: Caroline of Brunswick, Caroline Herschel,
                          and Caroline Clift.  With this project, I am putting forth nine new possibilities for the sources of the names: Cornelia,
                          
Caroli Linneaus, Lonicera, Craniola, Carniola, Coraline, Carolina, Cerniola, and Arenicola.  
                          As a series of drawings, I wanted these pieces to capture the conjectural nature of the suggestions as well as respond to the
                          visual culture that the images were drawn from: books and illustrations from the 18th and 19th centuries.




                                                   1  The French common names are anagrams of ‘Caroline’ and some of the scientific names are actually anagrams of ‘Carolina’. Keith Harrison and Eric Smith. Rifle Green by Nature:
                                            A Regency Naturalist and his Family, William Elford Leach.
 The Ray Society, 2008. p.401-402
                                   2  Unfortunately the printer misread his handwriting for the last name and it was published as Livoneca. “In the archives of the Linnaean Society in London there is an English
                                           version of the French text, written in Elford’s hand, in which he has clearly used the form ‘Lironeca’ and in the reprint he gave Latreille he corrected ‘Livoneca / Livonèce’
                                           to ‘Lironeca / Lironèce’ several times. Similarly in his earlier entry for the Dictionnaire, “Crustacés’, in which a French form appears, this is printed ‘Lironecée’. The International
                                           Commission on Zoological Nomenclature has nevertheless determined ‘Livoneca’ must be the name used for this genus.  In his unpublished manuscripts, he had also used
                                           the name Cilonera.” Ibid. (Note 116, p.402)
                                    3  There is no evidence of Leach having a mistress. Also, considering his dedication to research, his duties at the Museum, and his constant writing for publications, it would
                                            seem that there was little time for him to enjoy the company of one.
                                    4  The random ordering of pleasing consonants and vowels was suggested by Thomas Stebbing in 1893.
                                    5  Ibid. Note 118, p. 402.  Also, throughout the years, issues surrounding Leach’s names continue to be raised. In 1842, six years after Leach’s death, the Committee of the
                                             British Association on the “Revision of Zoological and Botanical Nomenclature” singled out Leach’s Azeca and Assiminea for condemnation as examples of ‘nonsense names.’
                                             In 1900, Reverend Knight investigated these issues and discovered the possible sources of the names: the Biblical town of Azeka and a “great oriental scholar”, Assemani.
                                             In reviewing dozens more of Leach’s names, he also concluded that Leach seemed to have a special fondness for geographical terms and names derived from persons -
                                             many with biblical or oriental connection. Journal of Conchology, Vol. 9, No. 9, January 1900.  
                                    6  Ibid. p.403. Further proof that the names continue to stir interest in the zoological community can be found in a 1994 article written by Ernest H. Williams, Jr. and
                                             Thomas E. Bowman in the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature. In this article, they defended the original spelling of Lironeca and requested that the International
                                             Commission on Zoological Nomenclature “use its plenary power to rule that Livoneca is an incorrect original spelling of Lironeca”. p. 225
                                    7  Harrison, p. 403