Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Blyth, Edward (England 1810-1873)
natural history

In his day Blyth was considered one of the leading zoologists in India, and a prominent figure overall in his field. He did a bit of everything: editing, translating, report-writing, taxonomic studies, field notes, technical articles, essays, popular works, etc. From time to time he touched on biogeographic subjects, as in 1871 when he contributed a short work to Nature in which he suggested a new formulation of world zoogeographical regions. All of this is largely forgotten today, and instead he is best known for his early (1835) recognition of some of the principles of natural selection--made not only long before Darwin and Wallace went to print, but even before the former first came up with the concept. Blyth, however, did not see the ramifications of the principle (nor did anyone else), and did little to develop his thoughts any further. Later he became one of the first to embrace Darwinism, and was a vocal supporter for the remainder of his years.

Life Chronology

--born in London, England, on 23 December 1810.
--1832: buys a druggist's business, in Lower Tooting, London
--1835: publishes "An Attempt to Classify the 'Varieties' of Animals" in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History
--1836: publishes an edition of White's The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne
--1837: his druggist's business fails; moves to Brixton, Surrey
--1838: appointed curator (possibly honorary), Ornithological Society of London
--1840: translates and edits the zoological sections of Cuvier'sThe Animal Kingdom
--1841-1862: museum curator, Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta; publishes prolifically for that body
--1847: censured by the Asiatic Society as a result of his difficult behavior
--1855: begins extensive correspondence with Charles Darwin
--1857: suffers extreme psychological trauma from the death of his wife
--1862: leaves Calcutta and returns to England; formally retires the next year
--1865: made an honorary member of the Asiatic Society of Bengal
--1866: falters mentally; is for a time placed in asylum
--1866-1873: contributes articles to Land and Water and The Field
--dies at London, England, on 27 December 1873.
--1875: his Catalogue of Mammals and Birds of Burma is published posthumously

For Additional Information, See:

--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 2 (1970).
--Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 6 (2004).
--Archives of Natural History, Vol. 22(1) (1995): 91-95.
--Journal of the History of Biology, Vol. 30(2) (1997): 145-178.
--Darwin and the Mysterious Mr. X: New Light on the Evolutionists (1979).

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Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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