The Genius of Erasmus Darwin provides insight into the full extent of Erasmus Darwin's exceptional intellect. He is shown to be a major creative thinker and innovator, one of the minds behind the late eighteenth-century industrial revolution, and one of the first, if not the first, to perceive the living world (including humans) as part of a unified evolutionary scenario. The contributions here provide contextual understandings of Erasmus Darwin's thought, as well as studies of particular works and accounts of the later reception of his writings. In this way it is possible to see why the young Samuel Taylor Coleridge was moved to describe Darwin as 'the first literary character in Europe, and the most original-minded man'.
Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin's grandfather, was one of the leading intellectuals of eighteenth-century England. He was a man with an extraordinary range of interests and activities: he was a doctor, biologist, inventor, poet, linguist, and botanist. He was also a founding member of the Lunar Society, an intellectual community that included such eminent men as James Watt and Josiah Wedgwood.
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