Adrian Desmond

Published On


Page Range

pp. 267–276


  • English

Print Length

10 pages

12. Making Sense of the Museum

  • Adrian Desmond (author)
The scene shifts to Saull’s talks in his museum, which even the clergy evidently attended, causing them to bolster their anti-socialist geological advice to ordinands. But the museum impressed a reporter from Thackeray’s National Standard. Saull, the indicted blasphemer, lacking education or ‘character’, now found his free museum of rich fossil merchandise providing his credentials of “taste, learning, and liberality”, in the reporter’s words. The hack left an account of Saull’s accompanying ‘evolutionary’ lecture, but admitted that without it the museum would have made little sense. Saull’s geology was designed to be integral to Owenite education, and the establishment of countrywide socialist schools, delivering a science-based education for children, is discussed. These schools were innovative and responsive, such that new fads (in particular the Owenite T. Symmonds Mackintosh’s “Electrical Theory of the Universe”, itself comprehensive, anti-Newtonian, and with a large dose of geology) could be quickly accommodated.


Adrian Desmond


Adrian Desmond was educated at University College London and Harvard University, where he was Stephen Jay Gould's first history of science PhD student. He has two MSc's, one in history of science, another in vertebrate palaeontology, and a PhD for his work on radical Victorian evolutionists. For twenty years he was an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London. He is the multi-award-winning author of nine books, which include: The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs, Archetypes and Ancestors: Palaeontology in Victorian London 1850-1875, The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, Medicine, and Reform in Radical London, Darwin, Huxley: The Devil’s Disciple, Huxley: Evolution’s High Priest, Darwin’s Sacred Cause (with James Moore)