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Darwin's Evolving IdentityAdventure, Ambition, and the Sin of Speculation$
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Alistair Sponsel

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226523118

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226523255.001.0001

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Lyell Claims Darwin as a Student

Lyell Claims Darwin as a Student

(p.105) 6 Lyell Claims Darwin as a Student
Darwin's Evolving Identity

Alistair Sponsel

University of Chicago Press

This initial chapter of part 2, “Training in Theory,” analyzes Darwin’s late-voyage scientific ambitions and his return to seek a place in the British geological community. It also introduces part 2’s major themes, particularly those of mentorship, collaboration, authorial credit, and the cultivation of audiences for scientific work. Sponsel argues that the well-known affinities between Darwin’s theories and those of the geologist Charles Lyell were more a product of their close working relationship than Darwin’s earlier reading of Lyell’s books. This master-and-student collaboration offered distinct benefits to both men while creating obligations on both sides. The chapter examines Lyell’s reputation as an eager generalizer or theorist who had been criticized and even parodied by contemporaries such as Henry De la Beche. Just as Darwin distributed zoological, paleontological, and botanical specimens from the voyage to relevant experts, so he shared his geological theories with Lyell, who helped craft them for publication in ways that would be mutually beneficial even when the two men disagreed, as they initially did on the formation of coral reefs. Not only did Darwin continue to develop his reef theory after the voyage, he did so in ways that emphasized his allegiance to Lyell’s geological principles.

Keywords:   authorship, mentorship, theorizing, coral reefs, The Principles of Geology, geological theory, John Herschel, Henry De la Beche, Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin, scientific collaboration

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