Johns Edward Holbrook (1796 - 1891) was one of the pre-eminent herpetologists of the 19th century. Holbrook was born in Beaufort, South Carolina in 1794, but he spent most of his early life in Wrentham, Massachusetts. After graduating from Brown in 1815, he studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1824 he became professor of anatomy at the Medical College of South Carolina, a position he held for over thirty years. It was as a naturalist that Holbrook made his name. His first major published work, American Herpetology, or a Description of Reptiles inhabiting the United States (Philadelphia: 1836-1842, 5 volumes), was widely praised both in the United States and Europe. A disastrous fire in the artists' buildings in Philadelphia destroyed all the plates, stones, and original drawings, and Holbrook's library and collections.