Adrian Desmond

Published On


Page Range

pp. 321–334


  • English

Print Length

14 pages

16. Lease-holder of the New Moral World

  • Adrian Desmond (author)
Saull’s largesse is shown to extend into the heart of Owenism. He owned the lease on Robert Owen’s house in Burton Crescent. Owen in 1835 set up his “Association of all Classes of all Nations” nearby, in rooms in Burton Street, where the next house organ, the New Moral World, was established. Saull lectured here on palaeontology’s human promise, and we continue to examine his treatment of respectable sources, including the Rev. William Buckland’s Geology and Mineralogy. Seen, too, are the way youngsters, notably the future Darwinian Alfred Russel Wallace, were entertained in Owenite halls, and how soirées featured electrical wizardry and huge fossil reptiles to astonish the adults. Yet the uncompromising materialism of many Owenites was troubling to the ‘sacred socialists’, and the fractures (involving Saull) causing the wider rift are exposed. Saull’s anti-clerical radicalism remained resolute, and is illustrated here by the public debates he chaired, his support for blaspheming socialists sacked from public office, and his identifying with his friend William Lovett’s “Knowledge Chartists”. Never a Chartist himself, he was nonetheless asked to stand as a Radical M.P. by Chartists.


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)