Stephen Jay Gould, the American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and science writer, and one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation, described the figure at the centre of Professor Roger S. Wotton’s beautifully sensitive book about the Natural Historian, Philip Henry Gosse, as the Nineteenth century’s answer to David Attenborough. And in many ways he was just that. For his enchantment with the wonders of aquatic life, and his ability to communicate that wonderment through his impressively wrought illustrations and engravings, helped him overcome social and educational disadvantage to become the great populariser of Natural History, a subject that became incredibly popular in the mid to late Nineteeth century.
But this book is so much more. For it is a biography that is interlaced with Roger Wotton’s own professional and academic life as an aquatic biologist, his childhood and young adult influences, and his own innate understanding of how life can be discerned and unpacked at the microscopic level, just as Philip Henry Gosse had known over 150 years ago. This common interest departs however, at the point of the origins of man and religion, and this bifurcation is discussed by Wotton from both the scientific and personal perspective. Walking with Gosse has much to say about contemporary attitudes to living things, to debates about creation, and to the causes of religious conflicts.
Filled with illustrations from Gosse’s own writings and also from the author’s personal collection, Walking with Gosse: Natural History, Creation and Religious Conflicts is also a treat for the eye. Gosse would have appreciated this for sure. For all readers who enjoy biography, the history of science, and the rights and wrongs of the evolutionary debate, which still rage today, this is a terrific buy and won’t break the piggy bank!
About the author
Roger S. Wotton is an Emeritus Professor of Biology at University College London (UCL). He was born in Paignton, Devon, during the Great Blizzard of January 1947 and grew up in the town before leaving to study Zoology at ReadingUniversity. Roger then developed his interest in research in Freshwater Biology and was awarded an MSc at the University of Salford and a Ph.D at the University of Durham. He was appointed to a Demonstratorship in Zoology at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1973 and this was followed by a Lectureship, then Senior Lectureship, in Biology at Goldsmiths’ College London. In 1989, Roger was invited to join the Department of Zoology at University College London where he spent the rest of his academic career, having been made Professor of Biology in 2002. Roger’s research has focused on the biology of organic matter in streams and rivers and he has worked in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland and the USA. He has published many research papers, the web book Life in Water, and he devised and edited both editions of the book The Biology of Particles in Aquatic Systems. A main focus of Roger’s work has been to integrate ideas from all branches of aquatic science, from streams to oceans, resulting also in a number of wide-ranging reviews. These contributions to research and scholarship was acknowledged with the award of a D.Sc degree by Reading University.
ISBN: 978-0-9556983-9-2 : Format: Paperback; Extent: 215 pp; Dimensions; 140mm by 216mm; 22 b/w photos; 17 b/w illus;
Retail price: £11.95; 19.30 $; 19.22 CAD; 14.75 EUR
Roger has his own website http://www.rogerwotton.co.uk/
and blogs at: http://rwotton.blogspot.co.uk/
- Creating Creationism (ntrygg.wordpress.com)
- Philip Henry Gosse: the David Attenborough of the nineteenth century (according to Stephen Jay Gould) (cliopublishing.wordpress.com)