Friday September 4, 2015
University of Roehampton
Professor David Amigoni (Keele University)
Professor Tim Fulford (De Montford University)
When the 28-year-old Charles Darwin first opened his ‘evolutionary’ notebook in 1837, he deployed the title of his grandfather Erasmus Darwin’s medical treatise, Zoonomia (1794-6). By then, Erasmus — poet, doctor, inventor, leading light of the Birmingham Lunar Society — had drifted into comparative obscurity; best remembered as the eccentric genius whose work TheLoves of Plants (1789) had been notoriously parodied as The Loves of Triangles.
Erasmus was never forgotten by his more famous grandson, however, and throughout Charles’s career, Erasmus’s writing and thinking acted as both catalyst and antagonist to Charles’s burgeoning evolutionary ideas, on such subjects as heredity, variation and sexual selection. Forty-two years later, Erasmus was also the subject of Charles’s own venture into non-scientific writing – a biography of his illustrious grandfather.
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