Erasmus Darwin

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

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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.

Bibliography

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

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.