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LYELL, CHARLES (b. Kinnordy, Kirriemuir, Angus,
Scotland, 14 November 1797; d. London, England,
22 February 1875), geology, evolutionary biology.
Nova Scotia” (1843), in Proceedings of the Geological
Society of London, 4 (1842-1845), 176-178; “On Craters
of Denudation, with Observations on the Structure and
Growth of Volcanic Cones,” in Quarterly Journal of the
Geological Society of London, 6 (1850), 207-234; “The
Tertiary Strata of Belgium and French Flanders,” ibid.,
(1852), 277-371; and “On the Structure of Lavas Which
Have Consolidated on Steep Slopes; With Remarks on the
Mode of Origin of Mount Etna, and on the Theory of
‘Craters of Elevation,’ ” in Philosophical Transactions
the Royal Society, 148 (1858), 703-786.
Lyell's books were Principles of Geology. Being an
Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface
by Reference to Causes Now in Operation, 3 vols.
(London, 1830-1833; 2nd ed., 2 vols., 1832-1833; 3rd ed.,
4 vols., 1834; 4th ed., 1835; 5th ed., 1837; 6th ed., 3 vols.,
1840; 7th ed., 1 vol., 1847; 8th ed., 1850; 9th ed., 1853;
10th ed., 2 vols., 1867-1868; 11th ed., 1872; 12th ed.,
1875); Elements of Geology (London, 1838; 2nd ed., 2 vols.,
1841; 3rd ed., pub. as A Manual of Elementary Geology,
1 vol., 1851; 4th ed., 1852; 5th ed., 1855; 6th ed., 1865);
Travels in North America, in the Years 1841-2; With
Geological Observations on the United States, Canada and
Nova Scotia, 2 vols. (London-New York, 1845); A Second
Visit to the United States of North America, 2 vols. (London,
1849); The Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of
Man With Remarks on Theories of the Origin of Species
by Variation (London, 1863; 2nd ed., 1863; 3rd ed., 1863;
4th ed., 1873); and The Student's Elements of Geology
Many of Lyell's letters and travel diaries were published
in the Life, Letters and Journals of Sir Charles Lyell Bart.,
Katherine M. Lyell, ed., 2 vols. (London, 1881). The
original copies of many of Lyell's letters to members of his
family, his scientific journals, and his notebooks are the
property of Lord Lyell of Kinnordy, Kirriemuir, Angus,
Scotland. Lyell's letters to other scientists are scattered
among libraries and MS collections, both public and
private, throughout the world.
Between 1855 and 1861 Lyell filled seven notebooks with
notes and references on the species question; these have
been published as Sir Charles Lyell's Scientific Journals on
the Species Question, Leonard G. Wilson, ed. (New Haven-London,
II. SECONDARY LITERATURE.
In addition to K. M. Lyell's
Life, Letters and Journals, three brief popular biographies
of Lyell have been published: Sir Edward Bailey, Charles
Lyell (New York, 1963); Thomas George Bonney, Charles
Lyell and Modern Geology (London, 1895); and F. J.
North, Sir Charles Lyell (London). Although all of these
biographies are heavily dependent on the Life, Letters and
Journals and on Lyell's published writings, each was
written by a professional geologist who contributed useful
insights into Lyell's work.
Leonard G. Wilson, Charles Lyell, the Years to 1841:
The Revolution in Geology (New Haven-London, 1972),
is the first of three volumes of a detailed, large-scale
biography of Lyell based on extensive study of both published
and MS sources.
There are references to Lyell among the lives and letters
of many eminent Victorians, both British and American.
Of particular value are Katherine M. Lyell, ed., Memoir
of Leonard Horner, F.R.S., F.G.S., Consisting of Letters
to His Family and From Some of His Friends, 2 vols.
(London, 1890); and Frances Joanna Bunbury, ed., Life,
Letters and Journals of Sir Charles J. F. Bunbury Bart.,
2 vols. (London, 1894).
The intellectual and scientific background to Lyell's
thought is discussed in a lively study by Charles Coulston
Gillispie, Genesis and Geology (Cambridge, Mass., 1951).
Various aspects of Lyell's concept of uniformity are discussed
in the following: Walter F. Cannon, “The Uniformitarian-Catastrophist
Debate,” in Isis, 51 (1960), 38-55;
and “The Impact of Uniformitarianism. Two Letters
From John Herschel to Charles Lyell 1836-1837,” in
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 105
(1961), 301-314; R. Hooykaas, Natural Law and Divine
Miracle, A Historical-Critical Study of the Principle of
Uniformity in Geology, Biology and Theology (Leiden,
1959), an attack on the principle of uniformity, inspired
by religious doctrines; M. J. S. Rudwick, “A Critique of
Uniformitarian Geology: A Letter From W. D. Conybeare
to Charles Lyell, 1841,” in Proceedings of the American
Philosophical Society, 111 (1967), 272-287; and “Lyell on
Etna, and the Antiquity of the Earth,” in Cecil J. Schneer,
ed., Toward a History of Geology (Cambridge, Mass., 1969),
pp. 288-304; and Leonard G. Wilson, “The Development
of the Concept of Uniformitarianism in the Mind of
Charles Lyell,” in Proceedings of the Tenth International
Congress of the History of Science (Paris, 1964), pp. 993-996;
and “The Origins of Charles Lyell's Uniformitarianism,”
in Uniformity and Simplicity (New York, 1967),