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Samuel Butler and Evolution

'Life and Habit' by Samuel Butler (1878) - 1890 edition, with pressed flowers (BII LIF 1890.2)

 

In 1859 the naturalist Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, changing forever the way in which scientists and natural historians understand the physical world. Although many people (scientists included) resisted Darwin’s explanation for the variety and complexity of life on earth, his insights fuelled discussions and prompted new research that brought the truth of evolution into the public consciousness.

In the midst of this intense period of debate and investigation, Samuel Butler published four books on evolution: Life and Habit (1878), Evolution, Old and New (1879), Unconscious Memory (1880) and Luck, or Cunning? (1887). This online exhibition explores Butler’s contribution to the subject and his relationship to the prominent evolutionists of the later nineteenth century.

Click on the link below to enter the exhibition. Each exhibit page has a link to the next exhibit, and the final exhibit links back to this page.