Lyell and Darwin, Geologists: Studies in the Earth Sciences in the Age of Reform, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Lyell and Darwin, Geologists

Studies in the Earth Sciences in the Age of Reform, 1st Edition

By Martin J.S. Rudwick


334 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789598
pub: 2005-03-22
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The studies in this second volume by Martin Rudwick (the first being The New Science of Geology: Studies in the Earth Science in the Age of Reform) focus on the figures of Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin. Lyell rose to be of pivotal importance in the second quarter of the 19th century because he challenged other geologists throughout Europe by probing their methods and conclusions to the limit. While adopting their goal of reconstructing the contingent history of the earth, he claimed that the physical processes observable in action in the present could explain far more about the past than was commonly believed, and that it was unnecessary to postulate occasional catastrophic events of still greater intensity. Far more controversial was Lyell's further claim that the earth and its life had always been in a stable steady state, rather than developing in a broadly linear or directional fashion. His younger friend Charles Darwin first made his name as a Lyellian geologist; Darwin's early work in geology, studied here, provided important foundations for his later and more famous research on speciation and other biological problems.


'Rudwick's books The meaning of fossils (1972), The great Devonian controversy (1985) and Scenes from deep time (1992) are already classics. It is very convenient that his shorter and less known papers are now made available in these Variorum reprint collections.' Archives of Natural History

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Notes on the articles; Bibliography. Lyell's Concept of Uniformity: Uniformity and progression: reflections on the structure of geological theory in the age of Lyell; Lyell and the Principles of Geology. The Making of the Principles: Poulett Scrope on the volcanos of the Auvergne: Lyellian time and political economy; Lyell on Etna, and the antiquity of the earth; Historical analogies in the early geological work of Charles Lyell; Charles Lyell's dream of a statistical palaeontology. The Reception of the Principles: Caricature as a Source for the History of Science: De la Beche's anti-Lyellian sketches of 1831; Charles Lyell, F.R.S. (1797-1875) and his London lectures on geology, 1832-33. Darwin as a Geologist: Charles Darwin in London: the Integration of Public and Private Science; Darwin and Glen Roy: a 'Great Failure' in Scientific Method?; Index.

About the Author

Martin J.S. Rudwick is Professor Emeritus of History of Science at the University of California San Diego, USA, and the University of Cambridge, UK.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General