Mini Biographies

Short biographical articles.

Book review: ‘The Ascent of John Tyndall’ by Roland Jackson

A long-overdue biography of the Victorian scientist, mountaineer, and public intellectual.

Thomas Wedgwood: the Uncle of Photography

As historians of science are forever reminding us (although nobody listens to those killjoys), we enter dangerous territory when we start to discuss the ‘first’ person to do X, the ‘lone genius’ who invented Y, or the ‘Father of’ Great Idea Z.

W.B. Tegetmeier

This article was first published on 04-Nov-2012: William Bernhardt Tegetmeier's 196th birthday. For every giant that strides the scientific world like a colossus, there are many thousands more mini-heroes of science whose contributions are sometimes overlooked or forgotten. One of my particular favourite mini-heroes is William Bernhardt Tegetmeier, whose 196th birthday gives me the perfect…

John Stevens Henslow

I fully believe a better man never walked this earth. —Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker 18th May, 1861 If anyone could lay claim to being one of the greatest Friends of Charles Darwin, it was the Reverend Professor John Stevens Henslow. Not only did this good-natured academic and clergyman teach Darwin much of his scientific…

Sir Richard Owen: the archetypal villain

What a strange man to be envious of a naturalist like myself, immeasurably his inferior! —Charles Darwin to J.S. Henslow 8th May, 1860 If ever an example were sought of the old dictum that history is written by the victors, we need look no further than that of the brilliant Victorian anatomist and palaeontologist, Sir…

FitzRoy's Bicentenary

Robert FitzRoy’s name is forever associated with—and has been eclipsed by—Darwin’s. The poor man has received something of a bad press over the years. He is remembered as a bad-tempered, religious fundamentalist who refused to see the self-evident truth of evolution, despite having travelled the world for five years in the company of Charles Darwin. But he deserves to be remembered as more than the tragically misguided figure who fell out with Darwin: he was a fascinating and complex man, whose sense of duty and strong moral values drove him to great feats—and more than once landed him in trouble.