John Gould had no formal education, regarding himself as a self-made man, and learned from experience and observation. In 1824 he moved to London from Lyme Regis and started his business career as a taxidermist, a self-taught trade he began as a hobby aged six. In 1827 Gould became Curator of the Zoological Society of London Museum.
In the 1830ís there was an enormous interest in ornithology (the study of birds) and Gould set about to produce a lithographic work , employing the talents of his wife, Elizabeth (nee Coxen), the artistic brilliance of Edward Lear and later H.C. Richter, William Hart and Joseph Wolf who made drawings and watercolours from Gouldís original sketches. , using chalk or crayon on limestone blocks, was the technique employed since it portrayed the feathers of birds and the fur of animals to their best advantage.
In May 1838 he and Elizabeth arrived in Hobart. Australia was new and barely explored , and the resulting work, The Birds of Australia (1840-1869) illustrated hundreds of exotic birds never seen before. It is now his most popular and valuable work. Gould was in seventh Heaven. As well as finding all about him an array of ornithological novelties, he had discovered a region abounding in extraordinary marsupials; here was another subject, he suddenly realised, that was yet unexplored .
He wrote as a preface to Mammals of Australia, (1849~1861)
"...I arrived in [Australia], and found myself surrounded by objects as strange as if I had been transported to another planet, that I conceived the idea of devoting a portion of my attention to the mammalian class of its extraordinary fauna."
'The Ruling Passion of JOHN GOULD'
by Isabella Tree ( Barrie & Jenkins Ltd, London,1991)