Johann Georg Adam Forster was a German naturalist, ethnologist, travel writer, journalist, and revolutionary. At an early age, he accompanied his father, Johann Reinhold Forster, on several scientific expeditions, including James Cook's second voyage to the Pacific. His report of that journey, A Voyage Round the World, contributed significantly to the ethnology of the people of Polynesia and remains a respected work. As a result of the report, Forster was admitted to the Royal Society at the early age of twenty-two and came to be considered one of the founders of modern scientific travel literature.
After returning to continental Europe, Forster turned toward academia. He traveled to Paris to seek out a discussion with the American revolutionary Benjamin Franklin in 1777. He taught natural history at the Collegium Carolinum in the Ottoneum, Kassel, and later at the Academy of Vilna. In 1788, he became head librarian at the University of Mainz. Most of his scientific work during this time consisted of essays on botany and ethnology, but he also prefaced and translated many books about travel and exploration, including a German translation of Cook's diaries.