Adrian Desmond

Published On


Page Range

pp. 385–396


  • English

Print Length

12 pages

19. Backlash

  • Adrian Desmond (author)
The furious backlash against the “poisonous” Oracle and its sale in atheist emporiums is shown to have repercussions for the Owenite movement. The proliferating blasphemy print shops in London—and we look at the one in the “filthy low” Holywell Street, behind the Strand, advertising “atheism for the million”—particularly frightened family patriarchs, who saw this unclean knowledge threatening “the purity of the daughters of our land”. The number of women lecturing on the circuit, typified by Emma Martin, only exacerbated the threat. Plain clothes police start raiding socialist halls, searching their libraries. Saull now switched to lecturing on primeval archaeology, focusing on the rise of Britons from aboriginal stock, a shocking idea for many.


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)