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The first female president of the society was Irene Manton (1973 to 1976), who pioneered the biological use of electron microscopy.

Her work revealed the structure of the flagellum and cilia, which are central to many systems of cellular motility.

In April 1939 the threat of war obliged the society to relocate the Linnean collections out of London to Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, where they remained for the duration of World War II.

This move was facilitated by the 12th Duke of Bedford, a Fellow of the Linnean Society himself.

The society's connection with evolution remained strong into the 20th century.

Sir Edward Poulton, who was president 1912-1916, was a great defender of natural selection and was the first biologist to recognise the importance of frequency-dependent selection.

Having authored relevant publications is an advantage, but not a necessity, for election.

The inception of the society was the direct result of the purchase by Sir James Smith of the specimen, book and correspondence collections of Linnaeus.

When the collection was offered for sale by the heirs of Linnaeus, Smith was urged to acquire it by Sir Joseph Banks, the eminent botanist and president of the Royal Society.

Recent years have seen an increased interest within the society in issues of biodiversity conservation.

This was highlighted by the inception in 2015 of an annual award, the John Spedan Lewis Medal, specifically honouring persons making significant and innovative contributions to conservation.

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Following this the new fellow is taken by the hand by the president, who recites a formula of admission to the fellowship.