Cambridge: At the University Press, 1914-1930. First edition. With 190 portraits and other plates, several in color. Five folding genealogical tables in a pocket at the back of Volume I. Two charts in rear pocket of Volume IIIA. Spine of Volume I lightly faded. Bottom corners bumped in Volume I, upper corner of Volume II bumped. Vols. IIIA and IIIB have worn dust jackets. A very good set. Original cloth, gilt spines, gilt portrait bust of Galton on front covers. Three volumes in four, large octavo. [xxiv], 246, [2, advertisement for the Pearson and Galton-founded journal, Biometrika]; [xii], ; xii, , 438, ; , pp. -673, , [8, ads] pp. Item #12246
Francis Galton (1822-1991), grandson of Erasmus Darwin and cousin of Charles Darwin, was one of the last of the gentleman scientists. He held no academic post, and most of his experiments were conducted at home or were farmed out to friends. His intellectual capacity was legendary, however, and he produced a steady flow of original ideas, even though he produced no one particular great work, at least in comparison to others in his family. His earliest important work was in meteorology. He noted the importance of anticyclones, for example, the term coined by himself. But his best-known studies were in heredity. He believed that talent—scholarly, artistic, athletic—was hereditary, and his conclusions became the foundation of modern eugenic sociology. (Again, the term “eugenics” is his.) He is famous for having simplified the method of identification by fingerprinting, revolutionizing the system in his own day, and producing a taxonomy that is basically the one in use today. Throughout his work runs the common theme that all experience and its variations can be quantified, and his taxonomies are numerous. This is the only full treatment of Galton’s scientific and personal life. Karl Pearson, a genius of amazing heights himself and a close personal friend of Galton, wanted this biography to be a monument to Galton’s achievement rather than a popular account of his life. It begins with a full comparison with his ancestors, especially the Darwins, and proceeds through a complete exposition of his work. It is noteworthy that the plates include, for example, all the illustrations from Finger Prints (1893), along with numerous other facsimiles from other works, and a fascinatingly complete photographic record of his life. The Dictionary of Scientific Biography calls it “one of the most elaborate and comprehensive works of its kind in this [the twentieth] century.”.