Published by Roger Wotton
Walking with Gosse: Natural History, Creation and Religious Conflicts
Extent: 215 pp; Dimensions; 140mm by 216mm
22 b/w photos; 17 b/w illus
Retail price: £11.95; 19.30 $; 19.22 CAD; 14.75 EUR
Publisher: Clio Publishing
Published: September 2012
A “fascinating and highly-readable book … a sensitive and insightful portrayal … Roger Wotton achieves this by skilfully interweaving the details of his own biography into that of his subject … It is a book I would thoroughly recommend for sheer enjoyment and understanding of a world where the conflict between Religion and Science still echoes in our own time.” Reviewed by Linda Wickham. Read the full review here
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Philip Henry Gosse was an English nineteenth century writer and lecturer who popularised Natural History. His books were illustrated by his beautifully crafted paintings and woodcuts, and he encouraged the use of microscopes and marine aquaria. His scientific enquiry ran side-by-side with evangelical Christianity and, in an effort to resolve the conflict between the literal Biblical account of Creation and the concept of geological time, he wrote his most controversial book, Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot. This was published in 1857, two years before Charles Darwin’sOn the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
Henry’s strong religious beliefs had a profound impact on his personal relationships, none more so than that with his only child, Edmund, who later became a famous literary figure and was knighted for his contribution to the Arts. Father and Son: A Study of Two Temperaments, Edmund’s best known work, chronicles the development of the major differences between himself and Henry, and it is this description of his father as a religious oppressor that is the accepted view of the man.
In Walking with Gosse: Natural History, Creation and Religious Conflicts, Professor Roger S. Wotton has given us a remarkable insight into the world of Philip Henry Gosse and, by interweaving historical biography with his own life as a Natural Historian who was brought up as a Christian, he conveys an intuitive and intimate understanding of his subject’s struggles. Walking with Gosse has much to say about contemporary attitudes to living things, to debates about creation, and to the causes of religious conflicts.
Roger S. Wotton is an Emeritus Professor of Biology at University College London (UCL). He was born in Paignton, Devon, during the Great Blizzard of January 1947 and grew up in the town before leaving to study Zoology at Reading University. Roger then developed his interest in research in Freshwater Biology and was awarded an MSc at the University of Salford and a PhD at the University of Durham. He was appointed to a Demonstratorship in Zoology at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1973 and this was followed by a Lectureship, then Senior Lectureship, in Biology at Goldsmiths’ College London. In 1989, Roger was invited to join the Department of Zoology at University College London where he spent the rest of his academic career, having been made Professor of Biology in 2002.
Roger’s research has focused on the biology of organic matter in streams and rivers and he has worked in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland and the USA. He has published many research papers, the web book Life in Water, and he devised and edited both editions of the book The Biology of Particles in Aquatic Systems. A main focus of Roger’s work has been to integrate ideas from all branches of aquatic science, from streams to oceans, resulting also in a number of wide-ranging reviews. These contributions to research and scholarship were acknowledged by the award of a DSc degree by Reading University.