© 2015 Cardiff Scientific Society


Charles Darwin was born on 12 February 1809. As a child he showed little of the genius that would make him the most famous British scientist of all time. His five year trip on the Beagle established him as a brilliant geologist, naturalist and biologist. By the time he came back he was already known in the highest of scientific circles. But it was his idea about how evolution works that made him really famous, or infamous in some circles and well known to the Victorian general public. For over 20 years after the Beagle voyage, he kept hidden his bombshell of Natural Selection until he received a letter from a little known naturalist working in Indonesia, Alfred Russel Wallace. Wallace’s letter was a perfect description of Darwin’s theory on the origin of species. He had been pre-empted! Yet this had already happened, for there was another Darwin, who had written about this concept of evolution and the struggle for existence some 60 years previously. This was Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin’s grandfather. The lecture will explore how the tradition of evolution developed from Erasmus to Charles and beyond and how together they give us a vision for science, our culture and economy in the 21st century. The two Darwins were an extraordinary intellectual force and an inspiration for us all.

2nd December 2009 Large Chemistry Lecture Theatre, Cardiff University

Two Darwins for the price of one

Professor Anthony K. Campbell MA PhD(Cantab)

Department of Medical Biochemistry and Immunology

Cardiff University
Director of the Darwin Centre, Pembrokeshire