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190 × 135 mm
216 pages
99 illustrations, 64 in colour
14 May 2018

Zebra Christopher Plumb, Samuel Shaw

Common and exotic, glamorous and ferocious, sociable and sullen: zebras mean many things to many people. The extraordinary beauty of their striped coats makes them one of the world’s most recognizable animals. They have been immortalized in paint by artists including George Stubbs and Lucian Freud, and zebra-print designs permeate contemporary society – on beanbags and bikinis, car seats and pencil cases. Zebras even have a road crossing named after them. But the natural and cultural history of the zebra remains a mystery to most. Few know that there are three species of zebra, or that one of these is currently endangered, or that the quagga, an animal that once roamed southern Africa in large numbers before dying out in the 1880s, is among the zebra’s many subspecies.

Zebra is a comprehensive and wide-ranging study of the natural and cultural history of this popular animal. Using a wide range of sources and stories, it shows how the zebra’s history engages and intersects with diverse topics, including eighteenth-century humour, imperialism and camouflage technologies. Including more than a hundred illustrations, many previously unpublished, it offers a new way of thinking about this much-loved but frequently misunderstood animal.

Samuel Shaw is an artist, writer and art historian. He teaches at the University of Birmingham. Christopher Plumb is a cultural historian and his first book was The Georgian Menagerie: Exotic Animals in Eighteenth-century London (2015).

Introduction: Defining the Zebra
1 Zebras at Home
2 Zebras on the Move
3 Colonizing the Zebra
4 Extraordinary Zebras
5 Stripes
6 Z is for Zebra

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Photo Acknowledgements