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Influence and later works

Desmond King-Hele Editor. In observation of the bicentenary of Erasmus Darwin's death, Cambridge is publishing this collection of personal writings by his grandson Charles. This is the first unabridged publication of a book by Charles Darwin, and it contains a series of illuminating insights into his grandfather's life and work.

With quotations from letters and candid comments by Charles Darwin abo In observation of the bicentenary of Erasmus Darwin's death, Cambridge is publishing this collection of personal writings by his grandson Charles.

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With quotations from letters and candid comments by Charles Darwin about his books; and free of the conventions of scientific writing; this small volume of personal observations illuminates the life of a distinguished scientist as seen by his accomplished successor. Get A Copy. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 5.

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Several portraits of Darwin are extant, of which the most notable are the earliest known portrait ca. Secondary Literature. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

Primary Sources and the Digital Generation: Erasmus Darwin

November 9, Retrieved November 09, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. The grandfather of evolutionist Charles Darwin, Erasmus Darwin was a prominent English physician and poet whose interests included biology, botany, and technology.

The son of Robert, a retired lawyer, and Elizabeth Hill Darwin, he was educated at Chesterfield School from to and studied at Cambridge University from to Darwin attended medical school at Edinburgh University from to and afterward opened a medical practice in Lichfield, near Birmingham. His medical skills quickly earned him a wide reputation that extended even to London, where King George III is reported to have sought his services as a personal physician. Throughout his career Darwin maintained a thriving medical practice and treated impoverished patients at no charge.

Darwin married Mary Howard in December of Together they had five children, three of whom survived into adulthood. Their third son, Robert, became the father of the naturalist Charles Darwin. Erasmus Darwin's wife died in , and he continued to live in Lichfield, where he fathered two illegitimate children by a woman named Mary Parker. The two daughters were raised in Darwin's household, and he later helped them establish a school for girls in Ashbourne.

Erasmus Darwin | British physician |

In the late s Darwin began cultivating a botanical garden in Lichfield and formed a local botanical society to pursue his interests in that discipline. He moved from Lichfield to Derby following his marriage to a young military widow, Elizabeth Pole, in An avid inventor, Darwin often pursued proof of current scientific theories and as a result of his efforts made notable contributions to such areas of study as physics, meteorology, and geology.

According to his biographer Desmond King-Hele, Darwin's achievements as a mechanical inventor included a "speaking machine that astonished everyone … [and] a superb copying machine. By the mids Darwin was at the center of a circle of eminent philosophers and inventors that formed in Birmingham. Among the members of the coterie were the inventor James Watt , the manufacturer Matthew Boulton, and the potter Josiah Wedgwood.

One of the original members of the society, William Small, whom Darwin had met through his acquaintance with Benjamin Franklin , had formerly been a teacher to Thomas Jefferson.

Erasmus Darwin

The group formalized their meetings under the title the "Lunar Society," a name derived from their habit of meeting on the evening of a full moon so as to be assured of light for the way home. The "Lunaticks," as they became known, were credited with initiating or advancing many technological developments of the Industrial Revolution.

Members of the society discussed scientific and technological issues, inventions, and theories. Chemist Joseph Priestly joined the group in , and his experiments, according to King-Hele, "gave the meetings a chemical focus. Active in the Cathedral Close literary circle in Lichfield, Darwin later gained considerable literary fame as a poet during the early s. At the height of his fame he was ranked with such significant literary figures as poet John Milton , and in Samuel Taylor Coleridge called Darwin "the first literary character in Europe, and the most original-minded Man.

Among his most recognizable works is The Botanic Garden, which was inspired by his translations of the botanical writings of Swedish botanist Linnaeus into English. The work, which began as a rendering of Linnaeus's botanical catalog in rhyming couplets, reveals Darwin's early acceptance of Continental developments in chemistry that had not yet gained approval among leading English intellectuals. Published in two parts as The Loves of the Plants in and The Economy of Vegetation in , the poem is also notable for introducing such terms as "oxygen," "hydrogen," "convoluted," "iridescent," and "frenzied" into the English language.

While King-Hele himself has described Darwin's verse as "smooth and skillful," in the Dictionary of Literary Biography he quoted the contemporary opinions of such notable commentators as William Cowper and Horace Walpole. Cowper, in the Analytical Review of May , assessed Darwin's couplets as having "a boldness of projection … unattainable by any hand but that of a master," while Walpole, in private correspondence dated April , hailed Darwin's work as "the most delicious poem upon earth.

In a similar fashion, Darwin's The Temple of Nature traces the development of life and offers his views on evolutionary theory. Posthumously published in , the work had originally been called The Origin of Society, a title the publisher considered too inflammatory as it could be construed as antireligious.

In the work Darwin held that all life originated in the sea and can be traced back to a single common ancestor. He also outlined how species diversified in response to environmental factors. Many of Darwin's ideas on evolutionary theory were earlier discussed in the treatise Zoomania, or, the Laws of Organic Life, published in two volumes in and Containing an outline of Darwin's extensive medical knowledge, the first volume considers a number of biological and medical subjects, including sleep and instinct, and offers a discussion of evolutionary principles.

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