Hutchinson, Henry Neville | The Autobiography of the Earth


    First edition, first impression. A lovely copy of this popular history of the Earth and its flora and fauna, including the dinosaurs, by “one of the most prolific writers on geological topics for a popular audience” of the 19th century (ODNB).

    Trained as a Church of England clergyman, Hutchinson published five science books during the 1890s, The Autobiography of the Earth (1890), Extinct Monsters (1892), Creatures of Other Days (1894), Prehistoric Man and Beast (1896), and Primeval Scenes (1899). “Many of these books had a large circulation. He was important for introducing new fossil discoveries to the British public, especially those of the American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, in an accessible and interesting way. Hutchinson was active in several scientific societies, becoming a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, the Zoological Society, and the Geological Society” (ODNB).

    “Hutchinson’s work is reminiscent of clergymen-naturalists from earlier in the century. However, in the context of the 1890s Hutchinson treated religious themes in a more subtle fashion than his predecessors. While they returned over and over again to religious issues in their books, Hutchinson limited his discussion of the divine activity in nature to the beginning of his books. Here he presented his belief that God had been present since the beginning of time through his immanence in the laws of nature... He rejected the position that evolution was ‘contrary to true theology’, or that there was anything ‘degrading in the idea’. He also dismissed the notion that the Bible and evolution were in contradiction, maintaining instead that ‘the account of the creation in the opening chapters of Genesis implies evolution’ (Hutchinson, Prehistoric Man and Beast, ix, 5). Hutchinson wanted to modernize public attitudes towards religion by showing that there was no conflict between Christianity and science” (ODNB).

    As Hutchinson explains in the preface, some of the engravings in this work were first published in Arabella Buckley’s books, which are also advertised in the publisher’s ads at the rear. Hutchinson was particularly inspired by Buckley, and “continually drew on the idea of nature as a fairyland” that she had popularised in the 1870s and 1880s.

  • ...A Popular Account of Geological History. With Twenty-Seven Illustrations. London: Edward Stanford, 1890.

    Octavo. Original green cloth blocked in gilt and black with a design of an ammonite and foraminifera to the upper board, yellow coated endpapers. Single leaf of publisher’s ads at rear, engravings throughout the text. Cloth lightly rubbed at the extremities, faint white mark to upper board, small spot to lower board, contents very faintly toned with just the occasional tiny spot. An excellent copy.