Mr. Darwin’s Book: Responses to On the Origin of Species in the Victorian Periodical Press

  • Megan Halford University of Victoria


In this essay, I examine the periodical press reception of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species following its publication in 1859. I argue that, while some detractors like Richard Owen and Bishop Wilberforce obfuscate the theories with misleading and complicated comments in their reviews, George Henry Lewes and E.S. Dixon use a scientific text and a short story respectively to explain Darwin’s theories and to advocate open-mindedness towards them. Both of these authors apparently share Huxley’s desire for clarity in a muddled debate and use the platform of the periodical press to elucidate the important tenets of complex theories.