Genetics, heredity, evolution and ethics

Cardiff University are currently undergoing a weed and restructure of their Research Reserve.  As part of this weed a number of books on genetics were passed to us to be included in the Human Genetics Historical Library.  Many of these items are old editions of textbooks, useful for the HGHL but not especially interesting in themselves.  So, it was with delight that the following three books were found to be included in the latest batch, helping to populate the evolution and early genetics sections of the library.




On the genesis of species by St. George Mivart (1871) is the oldest book so far to be added to the collection which mainly comprises 20th century texts.  It takes the premise that Darwin’s theory of natural selection is insufficient to explain all the phenomena connected to the origin of species, and attempts to offer an alternative view of ‘natural laws’.  Rebound at some point in its history by University College Cardiff, it contains a large number of black and white illustrations of a variety of species.

The germ-plasm: a theory of heredity by August Weismann (1893) was translated from the German by W. Newton Parker who was a professor at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire at the time (an early incarnation of Cardiff University).  This copy was donated to the college library  in 1939 by Dr A. H. Trow from the Botany department.  The work presents a theoretical explanation of heredity.

Evolution & ethics and other essays by Thomas H. Huxley (1901) was originally printed in 1894 as part of the Eversley Series published by Macmillan.  The title piece was a lecture delivered at the University of Oxford, the second of the annual lectures founded by Mr Romanes.  Huxley was renowned as a biologist, an anatomist and for being an advocate of Darwin’s theory of evolution.  This item was presented to the college library in 1943 by a W. Tattersall who had acquired the book as a prize for mathematics at Bootle Technical School.

2 responses to “Genetics, heredity, evolution and ethics

  1. Regarding your copy of Evolution & ethics and other essays by Thomas H. Huxley (1901): you say it was given to you by “a” W. Tattersall. Shame! This was Walter M. Tattersall, a worthy Professor of Zoology at your university. Not just an “a.”

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