Browne's second volume begins in 1858 with the circumstances surrounding the production and reception of the great work of Darwin's life, the “Origin of Species." Recipient of a large inheritance from his financially astute father, he was blessed with the leisure to pursue his scientific inclinations as something of a gentleman amateur, not unusual in his day. Having spent twenty years collecting factual material, Darwin was only compelled into presenting his revolutionary work to the public by a coincidence. One of his many scientific correspondents, Alfred Russell Wallace, sent him an essay which he had written for his perusal and help in getting it to the right people. Darwin read the essay and was shocked to find that it was in fact his own theory in summary. Worried over the loss of his proprietorship of the idea and his ethical obligation to Wallace, he consulted his scientific friends and was persuaded to get his own theories out to the public in a joint presentation with the Wallace essay.
Browne discusses the adverse critical reaction to the book as well as the support that Darwin got from Thomas Henry Huxley and others.
This report prepared by Jack Goodstein