Erasmus Darwin: A Life of Unequalled Achievement

by Desmond King-Hele
London: Giles de La Mare, 1999. 448 pages.

Physician, botanist, inventor, physiologist, and poet, the polymath Erasmus Darwin is also noteworthy for anticipating the scientific theory of evolution — complete with a recognition of the fossil record, the reality of extinction, and the immense age of the earth. The reviewer for Nature wrote of Desmond King-Hele's thorough biography, "Few scientific lives have ever been so carefully and thoughtfully examined. There are no final words in history, but this is a biography for which the word definitive can be aptly applied." King-Hele is also the editor of Charles Darwin's The Life of Erasmus Darwin.