Sheila Ann Dean Releases Groundbreaking Darwin Text

Contact: Gwen Glazer
Phone:  (607) 254-8390


Sheila Ann Dean Releases Groundbreaking Darwin Text
"Charles Darwin: After the Origin” Informs Current Debate on Evolution

ITHACA, N.Y. (Feb. 25, 2009) – What did Charles Darwin do during the 22 years after the Origin of Species was published?

“Charles Darwin: After the Origin,” a new book by Darwin scholar Sheila Ann Dean, answers that question and many others about the work Darwin undertook while controversies instigated by the Origin stirred the Victorian world.

Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the international Darwin Day celebration, the book serves as a companion piece to the to the collaborative 2009 exhibition at Cornell University Library and the Museum of the Earth at the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI). Dean is a guest curator and visiting scholar at the Library, and her book is published by Cornell University Library and PRI. The book was made possible by the generosity of Stephan Loewentheil, JD ’75.

“In this thoughtful and insightful review, Sheila Ann Dean has illuminated the most productive years of Darwin’s life,” said David Corson, curator of the History of Science Collections at Cornell University Library.

“Charles Darwin: After the Origin” delves into a period of time in Darwin's life that has thus far received little attention. From 1859 until his death in 1882, Darwin worked tirelessly to provide further support for his ideas presented in the Origin. He continued his original investigations into botanical topics, inheritance in domesticated animals and plants, sexual selection, human descent, animal expression and the movement of soil by earthworms.

“After the Origin was published, Darwin applied his ideas to a surprisingly wide range of plant and animal life, and scientists have continued to enlarge and refine evolutionary biology over the last 150 years,” Dean said. “This account of Darwin's later work can inform today's debates on the teaching of evolution."

As an editor of “The Correspondence of Charles Darwin,” Sheila Dean has spent almost 14 years (seven of them in Cambridge, England) reading piles of letters to and from Darwin. She has contributed to more than six volumes of the work. Before earning her doctorate in the history of science from The Johns Hopkins University, Dean worked as a forest hydrologist in the Rocky Mountain West, later studying acid mine drainage in Arizona. Her foray into the biological sciences also included research of native and introduced desert fish.

Dean will discuss and sign her new book at Mann Library on Thursday, April 30 at 4 p.m. The talk is free and open to the public; see for details. To get a copy of the book or schedule an interview with Dean, e-mail her directly at or call (607) 255-4343.

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