ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Erasmus Darwin

(1731-1802)


Erasmus Darwin, the fourth son of Robert Darwin, a lawyer, was educated at Chesterfield school (1741-50) and St. John's College Cambridge (B.A. 1754, M.B. 1755). He contributed an ode to the Cambridge anthology on the death of Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1751. After studying medicine at Edinburgh, in 1756 Darwin began his practice at Lichfield , where he was the center of a literary coterie; in 1781 he removed to Derby, where he founded a philosophical society in 1784. He was made Fellow of the Royal Society in 1761. Darwin's botanical poetry, once widely read, pursues questions later developed by the poet's famous grandson.


TEXT RECORDS:

1794[To Richard Polwhele; on the Spenserian stanza.]
1800 ca.Temple of Nature. Canto I. Production of Life.
1800 ca.Temple of Nature. Canto II. Reproduction of Life.
1800 ca.Temple of Nature. Canto III. Progress of the Mind.
1800 ca.Temple of Nature. Canto IV. Of Good and Evil.

PUBLICATIONS:

Linnaeus, The families of Plants [trans. Darwin]. 1787.
The loves of the plants. 1789, 1790.
The botanic garden. 1791.
The golden age: a poetical epistle to T. Beddoes. 1794.
Zoonomia: or the laws of organic life. 2 vols. 1794-96.
A plan for the conduct of female education in boarding schools. 1797.
Phytologia: or the philosophy of agriculture and gardening. 1800.
The temple of nature, or the origin of society: a poem. 1803.
Essential writings, ed. Desmond King-Hele. 1968.
The Letters of Erasmus Darwin, ed. Desmond King-Hele. 1981.