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Darwin Correspondence Project

Survival of the fittest

Fake Darwin: myths and misconceptions

15 November 2017

Many myths have persisted about Darwin's life and work. Here are a few of the more pervasive ones, with full debunking below...

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The evolution of a misquotation

We gave you six things Darwin never said (despite what you may read elsewhere).

 

None of the fake soundbites is more insidious than the first:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

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Alfred Russel Wallace
http://enriqueta.man.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/6vu7ve
Alfred Russel Wallace
R8475
Copyright of The University of Manchester

Alfred Russel Wallace

Wallace was a leading Victorian naturalist, with wide-ranging interests from biogeography and evolutionary theory to spiritualism and politics. He was born in 1823 in Usk, a small town in south-east Wales, and attended a grammar school in Hertford. At the age of 13, he was forced to leave school and enter a trade because of financial hardship. He joined an older brother in London as a builder’s apprentice, and the following year started work as a land surveyor with another brother, travelling to different parts of England and Wales and collecting plants.

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Charles Darwin on his horse, Tommy
Charles Darwin on his horse, Tommy
CUL DAR 225: 116
Cambridge University Library

Darwin in letters,1866: Survival of the fittest

The year 1866 began well for Charles Darwin, as his health, after several years of illness, was now considerably improved. In February, Darwin received a request from his publisher, John Murray, for a new edition of  Origin. Darwin got the fourth edition to the printers in July. Much to Darwin’s annoyance, however, publication was delayed by Murray, who judged that it would sell better if released later in the year. Darwin also completed the major part of what was to become Variation. Debate about Darwin’s theory of transmutation continued in 1866, with important commentaries appearing in France, Germany, and Italy.

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