CRF Blog

Revolutionary Theory

by Bill Hayes

In Revolutionary Theory for the New York Times Book Review, Hugh Raffles reviews Darwin’s Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution by Rebecca Stott.

Stott, in her absorbing account, shows that Darwin, who had sat on his discoveries for 20 years, had good reason to worry about his book’s reception. Among many other cautionary tales, there was one very close to home: that of the doctor and poet Erasmus Darwin, his talented and outspoken grandfather. Erasmus — having endured attacks against him in the press and seen the jailing of his publisher — felt compelled to hold back his own major work on evolution until after his death. Charles’s publication of “On the Origin of Species” was precipitated only after he received correspondence from the young naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who wrote from the Malay Archipelago, detailing his parallel discovery of the mechanism of natural selection. [more]