A new book reveals the cultural impact of Charles Darwin in unprecedented detail

NUS science historian Dr. John Van Weihe has co-published a groundbreaking new book on Charles Darwin, which shows for the first time the extent of his cultural influence over the past 160 years

The largest number of species named after one person is often attributed to the German naturalist and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. The impressive list contains around 400 species and includes everything from penguins to perennials. But in a new book, science historian Dr. John Van Weihe of the National University of Singapore shows that Charles Darwin, not Humboldt, is the world record holder, beating the previous figure by about 700 named species.

This discovery and hundreds more were revealed in the new book, Darwin: Companion, Which shows the true scale of Charles Darwin’s cultural influence over the past 160 years.

“Everything in this book greatly expands what was previously known about Darwin. For example, we used to know that Darwin’s works have been translated into 33 languages. Now we can show that it is in fact 64. This makes Darwin by far the most scholarly of Translating widely into history, “said Dr. Van Weihe, from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of New South Wales and Tempuso College at NUS. He is also the director of Darwin Online.

A decade in the making, Dr. Van Wei, together with Dr. Paul Van Hilfert of Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands, have created an unprecedented step-by-step guide to the life, work and influence of the famous Victorian naturalist.

Extensive research and new findings

Over a million sources have been consulted for research for this volume. The book contains more than 7,000 entries on Darwin, his family, friends, colleagues, dissidents, publications, manuscripts, finance, the library, and a host of other topics. No book has ever revealed much new information about Darwin and his unprecedented global influence.

The cover of the book uses a previously unpublished image of Darwin, and on the back is a painting of a Darwin study by his niece Julia Snow Wedgwood, which has not been previously published. “This book contains facts on every page that readers have never seen, even if they were an expert Darwin scholar,” Dr. Van Weihe explained.

Some of the new findings include Darwin’s lifetime’s whereabouts on a 730 entry itinerary. Presumably a recluse, a list of more than 400 visitors to his home challenges that idea.

Dr. Van Weihe also discovered 70 institutions, 130 monuments and 280 places named after Darwin, and nearly 250 stamps, notes and coins depicting him.

Much of the book is the most complete lists of photos ever created of his (Beagle) ship, his wife, his house, and more than 1,000 unique photos, paintings, statues, and caricatures of Darwin. The most detailed list previously was only 55 photos. Particularly exciting is the largest list of Darwin portraits ever published, with many new discoveries published in the book for the first time.

Darwin: Companion It is the most ambitious book on Charles Darwin ever published that raises the standard for the comprehensive treatment of other figures in science.


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