Erasmus Darwin

1731 (Elston, England) – 1802 (Breadsall)

The Lunar Society’s lynchpin, Boulton, Small, Edgeworth, Josiah Wedgwood, Priestley, Watt, Keir and Withering were friends and associates — Boulton, Wedgwood, Watt, Edgeworth and Small (whose deathbed Darwin was beside) particularly close. He borrowed botanical books from Banks, advised Beddoes to set up in Bristol, translated his correspondent Linnaeus’s work, and contrived a ‘casual’ meeting with Rousseau in Dovedale. Coleridge was enthralled by his learning if not his versifying, while Franklin (lifelong friend and mentor) grumbled about his pond’s smell. Fuseli, another good friend, illustrated his ‘Botanic Garden.’

Titian Peale

Titian Ramsay Peale

1799 (Philadelphia) – 1855 (Philadelphia)

Charles Willson Peale was his father, who passed many skills on to him, and inducted him into the family museological enterprise. Maclure, Say and Titian Peale were colleagues on an expedition to Georgia and Florida, and Say a colleague on a subsequent expedition up the Missouri and to the Rocky Mountains, Peale later illustrating Say’s seminal work on American entomology.

Joseph Banks

1743 (London) – 1820 (London)

Banks brought Bauer to Kew, checked Darwin’s Latin names, sponsored Hooker’s Icelandic journey, was succeeded by Davy as president of the Royal Society, and sent Coleridge some marijuana for him and Tom Wedgwood to experiment with. He had a huge circle of scientific friends (including Humboldt, Berzelius, Daubenton, Franklin and Wollaston) and correspondents (including Berthollet, Biot, Babbage, Lavoisier, Jussieu, Volta, Watt, Beddoes, Herschel, Hunter, Rumford, White, Young, Wedgwood and Withering). Solander, a lifelong friend, introduced him to Linnaeus, another close correspondent.

William Swainson

1789 (London) – 1855 (Lower Hutt, New Zealand)

Rafinesque was met in Sicily, where Swainson and he worked together and became lifelong friends and correspondents. Audubon met and was befriended by Swainson on an extended stay in England; Swainson taught him the niceties of technical reproduction, they went to Paris and visited Cuvier together, but the friendship foundered when Audubon proposed that Swainson provide the scientific content of his ‘Birds of America’ without being credited (and at the same time give him house-room for some months). Lear was a friend. Joseph Hooker considered Swainson a first-rate naturalist, but said he was “as ignorant as a goose” about botany.

William Swainson knew…

Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russell Wallace

1823 (Usk, England, now Wales) – 1913 (Broadstone, England)

Bates, met in a library, introduced him to insect-collecting; they separated two years into their Amazon expedition. Wallace corresponded with Darwin from the East Indies, sending him animal specimens; a paper he sent a startled Darwin from Sarawak, setting out his case for natural selection, was passed on to Lyell, who with Hooker worked out a form of tandem publication to clarify Darwin’s priority (Darwin later lobbied for a government pension for Wallace). Wallace was in touch with a wide network of scientists (Galton a particular friend), discussed spiritualism with Tennyson, and was invited by Mill to argue for land-tenure reform.

John Henslow

John Stevens Henslow

1796 (Rochester, England) – 1861 (Hitcham)

Henslow encouraged his protégé Darwin to assist Sedgwick, and since he himself couldn’t take up the position on HMS Beagle, recommended Darwin for it. He received most of the letters and packages Darwin sent back from the voyage, and wrote to advise him on collecting and preserving specimens (Darwin said that meeting him influenced his career more than any other). He persuaded Cambridge University to buy two full sets of Audubon’s great work, and corresponded with the American naturalist thereafter. The elder Hooker started a collection of economically-important plants with him; the younger Hooker married his daughter.

Robert Edmond Grant

1793 (Edinburgh) – 1874 (London)

Grant was a close friend and correspondent of Geoffroy, whom he’d met in France. Darwin met Grant while he was studying medicine in Edinburgh, becoming an enthusiastic student of the free-thinking biologist/anatomist. Grant took him to a talk by Audubon, whose wife had known Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus, but there is no record of a direct personal connection. Darwin’s close friendship with Grant ended when Grant felt that his student’s discoveries threatened his own. It seems likely that Grant as a student in Paris met Lamarck, whose ideas he keenly espoused, but it is unclear. Faraday advised Grant on public speaking.

Robert Edmond Grant knew…

Georges Cuvier

1769 (Mömpelgard, Germany, now Montbéliard, France) – 1832 (Paris)

Many of Cuvier’s friendships and acquaintanceships stem from his leading position in the French scientific establishment, including Berthollet, Arago, Biot and Gay-Lussac. Lesueur and Agassiz studied with him, Agassiz and Humboldt (a valued colleague) going to hear him demolish his influential sponsor Geoffroy’s theory about the anatomy of molluscs. Chevreul, Stendhal, Mirbel and Ampère were all regulars at his Saturday evening salons: also Lyell when he was in Paris. De Candolle was his assistant and friend, Lamarck his antagonised colleague, while Owen (a regular visitor) tired of being compared to him.

Carl Friedrich von Martius

1814 (Erlangen, Germany) – 1868 (Munich)

Martius spent three years travelling extensively in Brazil, collecting botanical and other specimens; Spix was his zoologist companion for much of these explorations. Schweinitz was among those to whom Martius sent specimens he’d collected. Agassiz, Schimpel and Braun all studied with Martius in Munich; Cuvier suggested Agassiz catalogue Martius’ collection of Brazilian fish (which he proceeded to do in Latin).

Lorenz Oken

Lorenz Okenfuss

1779 (Offenburg, Germany) – 1851 (Zürich)

Oken’s Naturphilosophie is very much of its time. Agassiz, Schimper and Braun, student friends, went together to study in Munich under the congenial Oken, spending pleasant weekly discussion evenings at his house. Nägeli and Büchner were also students of his — Oken supervised Büchner’s thesis. Both Schelling and Döllinger had taught him, before eventually becoming his colleagues in Munich. Schelling also lent him money and advised him on how to approach the formidable Goethe, who had supported his Jena appointment but then been piqued at his claims for osteological primacy (decades later, Oken was still grumbling to his friend Owen about Goethe’s audacity).

Lorenz Oken knew…