GALTON, Francis.

Hereditary Genius:

An Inquiry into its Laws and Consequences.

London: Macmillan and Co., 1869 Stock Code: 142987

His most important work, in the original cloth

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First edition of the author's "best-known and most influential book" (Hook & Norman) which heralded "the beginning of scientific interest in the topic of genius" (Eysenck, p. 14), in which Galton investigates the heritability of scholarly, artistic, and athletic talent, using the records of notable families as data.

After reading Origin of Species, Galton - a first cousin of Darwin - became fascinated with inherited traits and their relation to natural or artificial selection. "Galton originated the practice of empirical research in medical genetics He applied the Gaussian or normal curve to the range of human abilities, expanding upon Quetelet's observation that certain measurable human characteristics are distributed like the error function, and thus gave a new importance to biological and psychological variation, which had previously been regarded as unimportant" (Hook & Norman). "I do not think I ever in all my life read anything more interesting and original", Darwin wrote to his gratified cousin on publication; Alfred Russel Wallace was similarly complimentary.

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Octavo. Original purple-red cloth, spine lettered and stamped in gilt, blind rules to covers, front cover gilt-stamped with symbolic oval device, black endpapers, fore edge untrimmed.


With half-title, errata and binder's instructions to contents leaf verso, 2 pp. publisher's advertisements at rear. 2 folding tables (facing pp. 97, 376), numerous tables and diagrams to text, several full-page.


Very occasional marginal mark, neat pencilled notes to rear free endpaper recto (referencing further reading material). Spine slanted and faded, fading continued to tops of covers but gilt remaining bright, ends and corners bumped and rubbed, a few marks to cloth; contents generally crisp and clean, book block gently cracked in a few places. A very good copy.


Cushing G82; Garrison-Morton 226; Hook & Norman 864 (binder's instructions on slip bound in after contents leaf); Osler 1599 (1892 edition). H. J. Eysenck, Genius: The Natural History of Creativity, 1995.


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