Erasmus Darwin

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Erasmus Darwin
Birthday
BirthplaceElston Hall, Elston, Nottinghamshire near Newark-on-Trent
Died

Darwin, Erasmus

Darwin, Erasmus, 1731–1802, English physician and poet. During most of his life he practiced medicine in Lichfield and cultivated a botanical garden. He was a prominent member of the Lichfield literary group, which included Anna Seward and Thomas Day. In a long poem, The Botanic Garden (1789–91), Darwin expounded the botanical system of Linnaeus. His Zoonomia (1794–96), explaining organic life according to evolutionary principles, anticipates later theories. He was the grandfather of Charles Darwin and of Francis Galton.

Bibliography

See biographies by D. King-Hele (1964) and P. Fara (2012).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Darwin, Erasmus

 

Born Dec. 12, 1731, in Elton; died Apr. 18, 1802, in Derby. English physician, naturalist, and poet. Grandfather of C. Darwin.

In Zoonomia (1794–96), Darwin developed a theory in natural philosophy concerning the evolution of organisms. According to Darwin, embryos originate in the form of very thin fibrils that separate from the nerve endings in the body of the father and enter the ovum during fertilization. This process is the same for all animals, which, Darwin suggested, originated from the mixture of several “natural orders”; under the influence of the external environment, the use and nonuse of organs, and other causes, animals develop and change. In the narrative poems entitled The Botanic Garden (1789–92) and The Temple of Nature (1803; Russian translation, 1911) Darwin set forth his views of natural science in poetical form; philosophically, he was a deist.

REFERENCES

Krause, E. Erasmus Darwin und seine Stellung in der Geschichte der Descendenz-Theorie mit seinem Lebens- und Charakterbilde von Ch. Darwin. Leipzig, 1880.
Darwin, C. “Zhizn’ Erazma Darvina.” Soch.. vol. 9. Moscow, 1959. Pages 250–306.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.