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About | Classical Genetics | Timelines | What's New | What's Hot

About | Classical Genetics | Timelines | What's New | What's Hot


ESP Digital Book

Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation

Anonymous (Robert Chambers)


The book was published in 1844 with no stated author. Not until 1884 was the author officially revealed to be Robert Chambers, one of the most successful publishers in Britain. Chambers had chosen anonymity for a very pragmatic reason: he feared, and with reason, that the controversy over the book would hurt his publishing business. Chambers taught himself the basics of geology and botany, and was strongly influenced by Lamarck and Buffon. His motivation for writing Vestiges was in part to open up the question of evolution by natural law to serious scientific discussion. In a supplement to the Vestiges first published in 1845, titled Explanations, he wrote of the Vestiges: "I said to myself: Let this book go forth to be received as truth, or to provoke others to a controversy which may result in establishing or overthrowing it. . ."

When it first appeared in 1844, Vestiges brought together various ideas of stellar evolution with the progressive transmutation of species in an accessible narrative which tied together numerous scientific theories of the age. The book was initially well received and became an international bestseller, but its unorthodox themes contradicted the natural theology fashionable at the time and were reviled by clergymen - and subsequently by scientists who readily found fault with its amateurish deficiencies. Vestiges caused a shift in popular opinion which - Charles Darwin believed - prepared the public mind for the scientific theories of evolution by natural selection which followed from the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859.

Papers in Classical Genetics

The ESP began as an effort to share a handful of key papers from the early days of classical genetics. Now the collection has grown to include hundreds of papers, in full-text format.

Digital Books

Along with papers on classical genetics, ESP offers a collection of full-text digital books, including many works by Darwin and even a collection of poetry — Chicago Poems by Carl Sandburg.


ESP now offers a large collection of user-selected side-by-side timelines (e.g., all science vs. all other categories, or arts and culture vs. world history), designed to provide a comparative context for appreciating world events.


Biographical information about many key scientists (e.g., Walter Sutton).

Selected Bibliographies

Bibliographies on several topics of potential interest to the ESP community are automatically maintained and generated on the ESP site.

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