This annual event was established in 1998 by the Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council Museum Service to recognise Charles Darwin’s link with Shrewsbury. The lecture is given each February on the Sunday nearest to the anniversary of Darwin’s birth (12 February). In 2009, following the reorganisation of local government, the management of the lecture was taken over by the Friends of Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. Over the years the lecture has become a significant event and has attracted a succession of highly qualified lecturers.
Archive of recent Darwin Memorial Lectures
Feb 11th 2018 Prof. Martin Rudwick I, the Geologist”: Charles Darwin’s first career.
Charles Darwin first became known in the scientific world as a promising young geologist. This gave him the intellectual framework for much of his biological work. In this illustrated lecture Prof. Rudwick describes what Darwin did in his first career: from his earliest geological training while based in Shrewsbury; through his mind-expanding fieldwork in South America and the coral islands of the Pacific; to his ambivalent final fieldwork on the enigmatic ‘Parallel Roads’ in Scotland, which coincided with the creative biological thinking that later culminated in On the Origin of Species.
Professor Martin Rudwick’s own first career was as an evolutionary palaeontologist at Cambridge. Later he switched to the history of this and related sciences, which he taught successively at Cambridge, Amsterdam, Princeton and California. He has an international reputation and has published several books, most recently – and for the general reader – Earth’s Deep History (2014).
2017: Dr Andrew Berry (Harvard University) Coincidence? Charles Darwin, Alfred Russell Wallace and the Co-discovery of Natural Selection.
2016 Andrea Wulf, ‘The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt and his Influence on Charles Darwin’.
2015 Professor Gregory Radick, University of Leeds, ‘A brilliant blunder’? Darwin and Mendel revisited’.
2014 Professor Joe Cain, University College, London, ‘The Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 – reality or fiction?’
2013 Professor James Moore, Open University, ‘Making Livings: the Economic Worlds of Wallace and Darwin’.
2012 Dr Jim Endersby, University of Sussex, ‘Sympathetic Science: Charles Darwin, Joseph Hooker and the Passions of Victorian Naturalists’
2011 Dr Alison Pearn, Cambridge University, ‘The Work of the Darwin Correspondence Project’.
2010 Dr Robert Anderson, former Director of the British Museum, ‘Joseph Black and the Scottish Enlightenment’.
2009 Professor Lord May, Oxford University, Bicentennial Lecture
Professor David Bellamy, Naturalist; David Shepherd, Wildlife Artist; Michael Leach, Wildlife Photographer; Professor Steve Jones, Geneticist; Dr Janet Browne, Biographer of Charles Darwin; Professor Chris Stringer, Human Palaeontologist; Randal Keynes, Author and Charles Darwin’s great-great grandson; Professor Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel Prize for Medicine; Professor Paul Pearson, Geologist; Professor Colin Pillinger, Lead Scientist, Beagle Mars Project; Professor Richard Dawkins.