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Good Reads  Natural History  Biography, Exploration & Travel

Richard Owen

Biography / Memoir
By: Patrick H Armstrong(Author)
167 pages, 44 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Richard Owen
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  • Richard Owen ISBN: 9781789147629 Paperback Jul 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1 week
Price: £12.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Brilliant, hard-working, immensely productive and influential, the naturalist Richard Owen was a great promoter of science and played a large role in shaping London’s Natural History Museum. An often difficult and arrogant individual, he was accused of plagiarism and bullying and is the only man whom Charles Darwin claimed to hate. Although strongly opposed to Darwin and Thomas Huxley’s theories of evolution through natural selection, there is evidence that a few of Owen’s ideas were not so very distant from theirs. This biography gives an account of Owen’s life and work, providing possible psychological and social reasons for some of his more controversial characteristics, and his sometimes rather strained relations with his scientific contemporaries.


1 Northern Origins: Childhood and Early Life
2 Early Days in London: St Bartholomew’s Hospital, the Zoological Society and the Royal College of Surgeons
3 Monsters and Curiosities: Extant, Extinct and Non-Existent
4 Dr Owen, Dr Mantell and the Dinosaurs
5 Darwin and Owen
6 Huxley, the Hippocampus and Histrionics
7 The Evolution of Owen’s Evolutionary Ideas
8 Museums and Committees
9 A Cottage in Richmond Park, by Grace and Favour of Her Majesty
10 Owen’s Character and Personality

Further Reading
Photo Acknowledgements

Customer Reviews


Patrick H. Armstrong taught Geography and Ecology at the University of Western Australia for 28 years. He has written widely on the life and work of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, including Alfred Russel Wallace (Reaktion, 2019).

Biography / Memoir
By: Patrick H Armstrong(Author)
167 pages, 44 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Media reviews

"In this lively and sure-footed biography, distinguished historian of science Patrick Armstrong brilliantly brings a lifetime of scholarship to the task of explicating why Victorian-era palaeontologist and Charles Darwin collaborator and detractor Richard Owen remains worthy of our attention. A fascinating study!"
– Tom Chaffin, author of Odyssey: Charles Darwin, the Beagle, and the Voyage that Changed the World

"Armstrong's biography accomplishes its admirable purpose – describing in considerable detail Owen's many accomplishments and contrasting them with his disagreeable nature."
– Geoffrey Martin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Geography, Southern Connecticut State University

"This book is a fascinating account of the life of Sir Richard Owen. Patrick Armstrong's balanced commentary of an intelligent but controversial individual makes for compulsive reading."
– Vivian Louis Forbes, Adjunct Associate Professor of Geography, The University of Western Australia

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