Erasmus Darwin

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

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 SewardSeward, Anna
, 1742–1809, English poet, called the Swan of Lichfield. A member of the Lichfield literary group, which included Thomas Day and Erasmus Darwin, she was acquainted also with Dr. Johnson and James Boswell.
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 and Thomas DayDay, Thomas,
1748–89, English social reformer and author. He supported the American Revolution and the abolition of slavery and was interested in improving the lot of the small farmer. His moralistic History of Sandford and Merton (3 vol.
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. In a long poem, The Botanic Garden (1789–91), Darwin expounded the botanical system of LinnaeusLinnaeus, Carolus
, 1707–78, Swedish botanist and taxonomist, considered the founder of the binomial system of nomenclature and the originator of modern scientific classification of plants and animals. He studied botany and medicine and taught both at Uppsala.
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. His Zoonomia (1794–96), explaining organic life according to evolutionary principles, anticipates later theories. He was the grandfather of Charles DarwinDarwin, Charles Robert,
1809–82, English naturalist, b. Shrewsbury; grandson of Erasmus Darwin and of Josiah Wedgwood. He firmly established the theory of organic evolution known as Darwinism.
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 and of Francis GaltonGalton, Sir Francis
, 1822–1911, English scientist, founder of eugenics; cousin of Charles Darwin. He turned from exploration and meteorology (where he introduced the theory of the anticyclone) to the study of heredity and eugenics (a term that he coined).
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See biographies by D. King-Hele (1964) and P. Fara (2012).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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.


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.
References in periodicals archive ?
Martin Priestman, The Poetry of Erasmus Darwin (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013).
On the other side of the channel, Erasmus Darwin took up this call with gusto.
"Lieut Erasmus Darwin, who was a grandson of the great scientist, became secretary of Messrs Bolck-k ow Vaughan and Co Ltd some years ago.
In Erasmus Darwin, Fara organizes her examination of the polymath's life and career around the framework of three poems written by Darwin, "The Loves of the Plants," "The Economy of Vegetation," and "The Temple of Nature," plus a parody written by his conservative detractors, "The Loves of the Triangles." Fara describes the progress of her research, provides plainspoken commentary upon her reactions to the overwrought quality of Darwin's poetry, and divulges the truth about her field of endeavor--that the practice of history is not at all precise and, instead, follows a meandering path full of accidental discoveries, "false trails," and "jettisoned chapters" (p.
Key Words: Erasmus Darwin; Charles Darwin; Lunatick; polymath; physician: poet.
There are chapters here on Wordsworth (who had little interest in plants except vicariously through his sister), Erasmus Darwin, Crabbe, Clare, Ruskin, and Lawrence, and, in her final chapter, pages on Roethke, William Carlos Williams, Jon Silkin, Michael Longley, Ted Hughes and Les Murray.
But Watt is just one of the names in the Boulton facebook: Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestley, Josiah Wedgwood, Benjamin Franklin--Boulton knew them all and worked with them.
The essays are divided into two sections, 'Britain and Ireland' and 'Europe and Beyond', which seems to cover all eventualities until one comes across the fascinating essay by Deidre Coleman in which it is the location of the polyp between the vegetable and the natural worlds that is debatable, and more generally that area cultivated by several writers of the period, Erasmus Darwin among them, that lies between 'imagination and science, speculation and system, the playful and the serious' (p.
The grandson of the poet and physician Erasmus Darwin, and a relation of both Josiah Wedgwood (founder of the famous pottery firm) and Sir Francis Galton (founder of eugenics), Charles Darwin had been intended for the priesthood before he set off on his voyage of discovery on HMS Beagle in 1831 which would turn the Bible's creation theory on its head.
He crossed paths with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, Madame de Stall, and Erasmus Darwin, Charles's grandfather, who not only translated Linnaeus but set him to verse.