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197 × 120 × 18 mm
208 pages
60 illustrations, 40 in colour
01 Sep 2017
  • £11.99

Oyster A Global History Carolyn Tillie

Since the dawn of time oysters have inhabited the earth. Naturally high in essential vitamins and minerals, they are one of the oldest known and most widely enjoyed foods consumed by humans. Varying in size from as small as a grape to as large as a dinner plate, the oyster has driven countries towards discovery and exploration. It has been the food of the rich and the sustenance of the poor. Renowned for its supposed aphrodisiac quality, it has inspired writers, poets, painters and lovers. Throughout history, it has also contributed to the spread of diseases such as typhoid and cholera. Follow the story from the prehistoric up to the present day, discovering how the oyster became the food of both paupers and kings, contributed to the building of empires and the demise of ecosystems, and why it may be the creature to help save the world’s dying coastal shorelines and reefs.

Carolyn Tillie is a freelance writer and award-winning artist, and the author of Oyster: A Global History (Reaktion, 2017). She lives in the Californian coastal town of Montara.


1 Definition and Science

2 Prehistoric and Ancient History

3 Oysters in Asia

4 Oysters from the Middle Ages to the 1800s

5 Oysters in the New World: America and Australia

6 The Gilded Age

7 The Twentieth-century Oyster

8 Oysters as an Aphrodisiac

9 The Future of Oysters

Buying, Storing and Shucking Oysters


Select Bibliography

Websites and Associations

Oysters Bars and Farms

Oyster Festivals


Photo Acknowledgments