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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Richard Owen

A biography of the provocative nineteenth-century English naturalist.
Brilliant, hard-working, and immensely productive, the naturalist Richard Owen was a great ambassador for science and played an outsized role in shaping London’s Natural History Museum. Still, Owen was a provocative bully, accused of plagiarism, and the only man Charles Darwin claimed to hate since Owen staunchly opposed his ideas about natural selection despite sharing similar views himself. This biography gives an account of Owen’s life and work and offers some speculation about the reasons behind his controversial behavior and strained relationships.

168 pages | 45 halftones | 5 x 7 3/4 | © 2023

Critical Lives

Biography and Letters

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"In this lively and sure-footed biography, distinguished historian of science Patrick Armstrong brilliantly brings a lifetime of scholarship to the task of explicating why Victorian-era palaeontologist and Charles Darwin collaborator and detractor Richard Owen remains worthy of our attention. A fascinating study!"

Tom Chaffin, author of 'Odyssey: Charles Darwin, the Beagle, and the Voyage that Changed the World'

Table of Contents

1 Northern Origins: Childhood and Early Life
2 Early Days in London: St Bartholomew’s Hospital, the Zoological Society and the Royal College of Surgeons
3 Monsters and Curiosities: Extant, Extinct and Non-Existent
4 Dr Owen, Dr Mantell and the Dinosaurs
5 Darwin and Owen
6 Huxley, the Hippocampus and Histrionics
7 The Evolution of Owen’s Evolutionary Ideas
8 Museums and Committees
9 A Cottage in Richmond Park, by Grace and Favour of Her Majesty
10 Owen’s Character and Personality

Further Reading
Photo Acknowledgements

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