A Life More Ordinary: The Dull Life but Interesting Times of Joseph Dalton Hooker [Book Review]

Journal of the History of Biology 44 (4):611 - 631 (2011)
The life of Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) provides an invaluable lens through which to view mid-Victorian science. A biographical approach makes it clear that some well-established narratives about this period need revising. For example, Hooker's career cannot be considered an example of the professionalisation of the sciences, given the doubtful respectability of being paid to do science and his reliance on unpaid collectors with pretensions to equal scientific and/or social status. Nor was Hooker's response to Darwin's theories either straightforward or contradictory; it only makes sense as carefully crafted equivocation when seen in the context of his life and career. However, the importance of Hooker's life is ultimately its typicality; what was true of Hooker was true of many other Victorian men of science
Keywords biography  history of science  Joseph Dalton Hooker  Charles Darwin  scientific imperialism  professionalisation
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