Journal article

"Darwin's Delay": A Reassessment of the Evidence

RD Buchanan, J Bradley

Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society | University of Chicago Press | Published : 2017

Abstract

The suggestion that Darwin delayed publishing his species theory has long occupied a central part of his biographical storyline. The notion of a fretful delay reached a melodramatic apogee in Adrian Desmond and James Moore’s best-selling 1991 biography. Janet Browne’s acclaimed work downplayed the pathos but depicted a somewhat hesitant Darwin. In 2007 John van Wyhe upended this tableau, arguing that there was no evidence to support a secretive, fear-based delay. Contrary to vanWyhe, this essay suggests that Darwin was only selectively and strategically open about his belief in transmutation prior to his barnacle project. The 1844 appearance of the anonymously published Vestiges of the Natur..

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