Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry into Its Laws and Consequences.
Galton, Francis.

London: Macmillan, 1869. First edition of Galton’s most important work. Presentation copies of Galton’s books are uncommon; the only one noted in recent auction records is on the Honeyman copy of Meteorologica, sold in 1979, which is also inscribed “from the Author Two folding tables. Includes the slip with “Directions to binder” bound between 2C3 and 2C4. Head of spine faded, minor soiling. A good, clean copy. Presentation copy, inscribed “From the Author” on the verso of the front free endpaper. This copy was owned by John Tomes (1815-1895), founder of the Royal Dental Hospital (See Garrison and Morton 3683), and bears his signature in two places, along with pencil notes on a terminal blank, presumably in his hand. Original mauve cloth, expertly recased. Gilt front cover and spine. Octavo. . [viii], 390, [2, ads], (Item ID: 13822)


“In Hereditary Genius, his best-known and most influential book, Galton investigated the heritability of scholarly, artistic, and athletic talent, using the records of notable families as data. He concluded that such talents have a high degree of heritability, and that people vary in the kind and degree of hereditary abilities they possess. He applied the Gaussian or normal curve to the range of human abilities, expanding upon Quetelet’s observation that certain measurable human characteristics are distributed like the error function, and thus gave a new importance to biological and psychological variation, which had previously been regarded as unimportant” (Haskell Norman Catalogue No. 864). “…[Galton] in my opinion to-day, created it; there is nothing in the memoirs of Gauss and Bravais that really antedates his discoveries…Galton, starting from the organic relationship between parent and offspring, passed to the idea of a coefficient measuring the correlation of all the pairs of organs, and thence to the ‘organic’ relationship of all sorts of factors…Galton realized as fully as any of us now the width of application that would open up to the new calculus of correlation…His advances were chiefly hampered by the restriction of his data and the need for organized observers and computers” (Karl Pearson in Pearson & Kendall, Studies in the History of Statistics and Probability, Volume I, pp. 200-1).

Garrison and Morton 226

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