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Academic & Professional Books  History & Other Humanities  History of Science & Nature

Evolution Before Darwin Theories of the Transmutation of Species in Edinburgh, 1804-1834

By: Bill Jenkins(Author)
232 pages
Evolution Before Darwin
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  • Evolution Before Darwin ISBN: 9781474445795 Paperback Aug 2021 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 5 days
  • Evolution Before Darwin ISBN: 9781474445788 Hardback Oct 2019 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 5 days
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About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Evolution Before Darwin is the first major study of what was probably the most important centre or pre-Darwinian evolutionary thought in the British Isles. It sheds new light on the genesis and development of one of the most important scientific theories in the history of western thought.

It was long believed that evolutionary theories received an almost universally cold reception in British natural history circles in the first half of the nineteenth century. However, a relatively recently serious doubt has been cast on this assumption. This book shows that Edinburgh in the late 1820s and early 1830s was witness to a ferment of radical new ideas on the natural world, including speculation on the origin and evolution of life, at just the time when Charles Darwin was a student in the city. Those who were students in Edinburgh at the time could have hardly avoided coming into contact with these new ideas.



Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Edinburgh’s university and medical schools in the early nineteenth century
      The legacy of the Scottish Enlightenment
      The University of Edinburgh at the beginning of the nineteenth century
      The University of Edinburgh’s medical school
      Edinburgh’s extra-mural anatomy schools
Chapter 3: Natural History in Edinburgh, 1779–1832
      Natural history in Edinburgh in the late eighteenth century
      Robert Jameson and the chair of natural history
      Comparative anatomy at the extra-mural medical schools
      Natural history, scientific and medical societies
      Natural history and science journals
Chapter 4: Geology and evolution
      The Wernerian model of earth history
      Wernerians and Huttonians in Edinburgh
      The story of life as a tale of progressive development
      Wernerian geology and transformism
      Werner, Lamarck and Geoffroy in Edinburgh
Chapter 5: Edinburgh and Paris
      Contemporary transformism in France: Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire
      Lamarck in Scotland
      The impact of Geoffroy’s theories in Edinburgh
Chapter 6: The legacy of the ‘Edinburgh Lamarckians’
      The eclipse of transformism in Edinburgh
      Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation
      Transmutation without progress: Robert Knox and Hewett Cottrell Watson
      The legacy of Darwin’s Edinburgh years
Chapter 7: Conclusion

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Customer Reviews


Dr Bill Jenkins is a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of History at the University of St Andrews, working on a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust entitled After the Enlightenment: Scottish Intellectual Life, c.1790-c.1843. Jenkins received his PhD at the University of Edinburgh and published several papers in key journals, including the Journal of the History of Biology, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies and British Journal for the History of Science.

By: Bill Jenkins(Author)
232 pages
Media reviews

"A well-written and very interesting read and an important contribution to the historiography of (British) evolutionism."
– Koen B. Tanghe, University of Gent, Journal of the History of Biology

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