Charles Darwin, though he produced the most coherent and influential account of the evolution of species, was not the first Darwin to publish on the subject: That honor belongs to his paternal grandfather, Erasmus Darwin. A true polymath, Erasmus Darwin was a physician, poet, and inventor and so renowned in his time that he was offered the position of personal physician to the King, a post which he refused, preferring to continue treating the relatively poor country folk instead. Having studied at St. John’s College, Cambridge, as well as in Edinburgh, he practiced as a physician first in Nottingham and then in Litchfield, where he established himself as a prominent figure in the local scientific community.
In addition to his work as a physician, he cultivated a great interest in taxonomy and botany, maintaining a large botanical garden, and building enough of a reputation that he was very close to accompanying Captain James Cook as a naturalist on one of his voyages...
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