Life, Letters and Journals of Sir Charles Lyell, Bart

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Cambridge University Press, Nov 11, 2010 - Science - 492 pages
Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875) was one of the most renowned geologists of the nineteenth century. He was awarded the Copley Medal by the Royal Society in 1858 and the Wollaston Medal by the Geological Society of London in 1866 for his contributions to geology. Lyell's most important contribution to modern geology was his refining and popularising the geological concept of uniformitarianism, the idea that the earth has been formed through slow-acting geological forces. This biography, first published in 1881 and edited by his sister-in-law K. M. Lyell, provides an intimate view of Lyell's personal and professional life through the inclusion of his correspondence with family, friends and academic peers. His changing ideas concerning the validity of the theory of natural selection and other geological ideas are also examined through the inclusion of extracts from his private journal. Volume 1 covers Lyell's early life and career until 1836.
 

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Contents

CHAPTER
1
FEBRUARY 1816NOVEMBER 1817
32
CHAPTER III
57
JULYSEPTEMBER 1818
84
CHAPTER V
112
CHAPTER VI
132
JULY 1825DECEMBER 1827
160
CHAPTER VIII
175
CHAPTER XII
269
AUGUSTNOVEMBER 1830
283
CHAPTER XIII
315
CHAPTER XIV
339
JANUARY MAY 1832
361
CHAPTER XVI
387
CHAPTER XVII
407
CHAPTER XVIII
425

CHAPTER IX
205
BorneNews from home on Geological speculationsDr Wollastons
236
FEBRUARYAUGUST 1830
259
JANUARYDECEMBER 1835
444
CHAPTER XX
462
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About the author (2010)

Lyell was born in Kinnordy, Scotland. His father was a naturalist, and Lyell grew up surrounded by books on natural history, geology, and other sciences. He entered Oxford University at the age of 19 after a boarding-school education that was periodically interrupted by poor health. There his interest in geology was heightened. Although he studied law, he gave up legal work to study rocks and fossils. His contribution to geology is twofold. First, he showed that the earth is constantly changing, not by a series of worldwide catastrophes followed by new creations, but by slow, gradual processes. Like James Hutton, he believed and taught that present-day processes were the ones that shaped the past. It was the worldwide publication of Lyell's treatises and texts that led to the general acceptance of the principle of uniformitarianism, first put forth by Hutton. Second, Lyell contributed the principle of faunal succession and the notion of the time sequence of events. These were evidenced from spatial relationships among strata, faults, and intrusions. The data on which Lyell's contributions are based were gathered on numerous field excursions, most notably in southern Europe, the United States, and Canada. During these trips, Lyell collected numerous samples that he and his wife meticulously categorized and labeled. His writings show that he was also interested in, and concerned about, human problems, as well as problems of science. He touches upon social reforms in England and the problems of slavery in the United States. Lyell was a prolific writer, summarizing his thoughts, contributions, and achievements in these major works: "Principles of Geology" (1830, 1831, 1833), "Antiquity of Man," and "Travels in America." His health and strength declined after the death of his wife in 1873, and he died two years later. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

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