Hewett Cottrell Watson: Victorian Plant Ecologist and Evolutionist

1st Edition

Frank N. Egerton

Routledge
September 30, 2019 Forthcoming
Reference - 312 Pages
ISBN 9781138723450 - CAT# Y325829
Series: Routledge Revivals

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Summary

This title was first published in 2003. Hewett Cottrell Watson was a pioneer in a new science not yet defined in Victorian times - ecology - and was practically the first naturalist to conduct research on plant evolution, beginning in 1834. His achievement in British science is commemorated by the fact that the Botanical Society of the British Isles named its journal after him - Watsonia - but of greater significance to the history of science is his contribution to the development of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The correspondence between Watson and Darwin, analysed for the first time in this book, reveals the extent to which Darwin profited from Watson’s data. Darwin’s subsequent fame, however, is one of the reasons why Watson became almost forgotten. At the same time, Watson can be called a classic Victorian eccentric, and his other ambition, in addition to promoting and organizing British botany, was to carry forward the cause of phrenology. Indeed, he was a more daring theoretician in phrenology than ever he was in botany, but in the end he abandoned it, not being able to raise phrenology to the level of an accepted science. This biography traces both the influences and characteristics that shaped Watson’s outlook and personality, and indeed his science, and the institutional contexts within which he worked. At the same time, it makes evident the extent of his real contributions to the science of plant ecology and evolution.

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