Sir Francis Galton F.R.S. 1822-1911
Victorian polymath: geographer, meteorologist, tropical explorer, founder of differential psychology, inventor of fingerprint identification, pioneer of statistical correlation and regression, convinced hereditarian, eugenicist, proto-geneticist, half-cousin of Charles Darwin and best-selling author.
I have no patience with the hypothesis occasionally expressed, and often implied, especially in tales written to teach children to be good, that babies are born pretty much alike, and that the sole agencies in creating differences between boy and boy, and man and man, are steady application and moral effort. It is in the most unqualified manner that I object to pretensions of natural equality. The experiences of the nursery, the school, the University, and of professional careers, are a chain of proofs to the contrary.
-- Francis Galton, Hereditary Genius
Despite his colossal achievements, contemporary reputation and far-reaching influence, Sir Francis Galton is no longer widely known or appreciated except among specialists. This site corrects the record, collecting online all of Galton's original published work, including all his books, papers and other published work. The complete, definitive biography by Karl Pearson, rare even in libraries, is provided here, as are contemporary reviews of, and commentary on, Galton's work. There is a substantial gallery of photographs and portraits of Galton, and concise overviews of his major areas of interest are provided.
The collection contains many newly discovered items and material that has long been almost impossible to obtain. The product of over five years of research - an international treasure-hunt through rare Victorian journal and newspaper collections, archives, bibliographies and other arcana - it is now practically complete. New items continue to be added, as a clearer picture of Galton's wide-ranging research programme is uncovered.
| Tropical Explorer |
|Galton launched his scientific career with an expedition to tropical Africa and subsequent election to the Royal Geographical Society.|
|Meteorologist:||Galton first described the anti-cyclone and pioneered the introduction of weather-maps based on charting data about air pressure.|
|Geneticist:||By studying inheritance statistically, Galton founded the "biometric" approach to genetics.|
|Psychologist||Galton founded Differential Psychology, sometimes called the "London School" of experimental psychology..|
|Statistician:||The study of heredity could only be placed on a scientific basis by introducing new statistical concepts like regression and correlation.|
|Eugenicist:||Galton wrote and campaigned extensively about improvement of the human stock, which he called 'eugenics'.|
|Biography:||The autobiography and Pearson's monumental biography are both available here.|
|Gallery:|| A collection of photographs and portraits of Galton. |
|Bibliography:||This bibliography lists all the known published material by Galton and provides links to those published on this site (almost all of his papers are now available here).|
|"Both the idea of a general factor of cognitive ability ... and the idea that genetic factors might be an important source of variance in cognitive ability have been continuously debated since they were first systematically expounded by Galton ... . Reviews of Galton's books published in the London Times at the time of their appearance could, if slight changes were made, be published today."|
-- Thomas Bouchard 'IQ similarity in twins reared apart: findings and responses to critics' 1997.