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CLAUDIO GAY (1800-1873)


Born in France, Claudio Gay spent most of his productive life in Chile. He arrived there in 1828 and by 1830 had accepted an invitation to begin a study of the country on behalf of the government. He did research for a decade, then began writing, and produced a thirty-volume set of books (twenty-eight volumes of text, plus two atlas volumes) that constituted the first in-depth study of Chile’s natural and political history. The work was published by the Chilean government between 1844 and 1871 – a rather long gestation period, during which time Gay also founded a botanical garden, to which he brought from France Vitis vinifera vines, some sixty varieties, thus inaugurating the Chilean wine industry.