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First Charles Darwin Oration

By Leanne Coleman

Professor Janet Browne will deliver the first Charles Darwin Oration next month Professor Janet Browne will deliver the first Charles Darwin Oration next month

Harvard University Aramont Professor of the History of Science Professor Janet Browne will deliver the first Charles Darwin Oration next month as part of Charles Darwin University’s 25th Anniversary celebrations.

Named as CDU’s first Charles Darwin Scholar last year, Professor Browne will deliver the oration entitled “Charles Darwin: His Life in Public and Private”. 

“By the time of his death Charles Darwin was one of the most celebrated and one of the most notorious scientists in the world,” Professor Browne said. “Today he is just as famous. Still controversial, Darwin has become an icon of modern science at the same time as his theories have become the basis of modern biology.

“I will explore how Darwin came to write the Origin of Species and its impact in Victorian England. I will describe how Darwin was simultaneously a public figure surrounded by controversy and a private family man with many friends and relations, and a succession of small children. The public and private were closely intermeshed in Darwin's life, not always comfortably.”

A historian of science, Professor Browne is widely known for her work on the history of 19th Century biology and has specialised in re-evaluating the life, times and work of Charles Darwin.

Among her many achievements, Professor Browne has won critical acclaim for her two-volume biography of Darwin, Charles Darwin: Voyaging (1995) and Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (2002), described by reviewers as “monumental” and “definitive”. She has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography, the Pfizer Prize for Biography from the British History of Science Society, and the Royal Society of Literature Prize.

CDU’s Charles Darwin Scholars are eminent and accomplished researchers in either the history of Charles Darwin, evolutionary biology, or fields closely related to either of these areas, from anywhere throughout the world.

The first of these honours was bestowed on Professor Browne last year, being the 155th anniversary of the year in which both Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace published joint papers on natural selection in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London 1858.

Professor Browne said she was thrilled to have been considered for the honorary position and looked forward to travelling to Darwin in July.

The Scholars will hold the honorary position for 12 months during which time they will visit Darwin for a short period to deliver the annual Darwin Oration and be available to staff and students for discussion, collaboration and other activities.

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