The lecture series was founded by, and named after, the biologist George Romanes, and has been running since 1892. Over the years, many notable figures from the Arts and Sciences have been invited to speak. The lecture can be on any subject in science, art or literature, approved by the Vice-Chancellor of the University.
The text of each Romanes Lecture is generally published by Oxford University Press using the "Clarendon Press" imprint, and where appropriate the citation for an individual lecture is listed in the published works of each author's entry in Wikipedia.
Events from the year 1920 in the United Kingdom.Andrew Motion
Sir Andrew Motion (born 26 October 1952) is an English poet, novelist, and biographer, who was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009. During the period of his laureateship, Motion founded the Poetry Archive, an online resource of poems and audio recordings of poets reading their own work. In 2012, he became President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, taking over from Bill Bryson.Cyril Radcliffe, 1st Viscount Radcliffe
Cyril John Radcliffe, 1st Viscount Radcliffe, (30 March 1899 – 1 April 1977) was a British lawyer and Law Lord best known for his role in the partition of British India. He served as the first chancellor of the University of Warwick from its foundation in 1965 to 1977.D. M. S. Watson
Prof David Meredith Seares Watson FRS FGS HFRSE LLD (18 June 1886 – 23 July 1973) was the Jodrell Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at University College, London from 1921 to 1951.Donald Tovey
Sir Donald Francis Tovey (17 July 1875 – 10 July 1940) was a British musical analyst, musicologist, writer on music, composer, conductor and pianist. He had been best known for his Essays in Musical Analysis and his editions of works by Bach and Beethoven, but since the 1990s his compositions (relatively small in number but substantial in musical content) have been recorded and performed with increasing frequency. The recordings have mostly been well received by reviewers.Edward Bagnall Poulton
Sir Edward Bagnall Poulton, FRS HFRSE FLS (27 January 1856 – 20 November 1943) was a British evolutionary biologist who was a lifelong advocate of natural selection through a period in which many scientists such as Reginald Punnett doubted its importance. He invented the term sympatric for evolution of species in the same place, and in his book The Colours of Animals (1890) was the first to recognise frequency-dependent selection.
Poulton is also remembered for his pioneering work on animal coloration. He is credited with inventing the term aposematism for warning coloration, as well as for his experiments on 'protective coloration' (camouflage).
Poulton became Hope Professor of Zoology at the University of Oxford in 1893.Edward Bridges, 1st Baron Bridges
Edward Ettingdene Bridges, 1st Baron Bridges, (4 August 1892 – 27 August 1969) was a British civil servant.George Porter
George Porter, Baron Porter of Luddenham, (6 December 1920 – 31 August 2002) was a British chemist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1967.George Romanes
George John Romanes FRS (20 May 1848 – 23 May 1894) was a Canadian-Scots evolutionary biologist and physiologist who laid the foundation of what he called comparative psychology, postulating a similarity of cognitive processes and mechanisms between humans and other animals.
He was the youngest of Charles Darwin's academic friends, and his views on evolution are historically important. He is considered to invent the term neo-Darwinism, which in the late 19th century was considered as a theory of evolution that focuses on natural selection as the main evolutionary force. However, Samuel Butler used this term with a similar meaning in 1880. Romanes' early death was a loss to the cause of evolutionary biology in Britain. Within six years Mendel's work was rediscovered, and a whole new agenda opened up for debate.Henry Harris (scientist)
Sir Henry Harris (28 January 1925 – 31 October 2014) was an Australian professor of medicine at the University of Oxford who led pioneering work on cancer and human genetics in the 2000s.John Galsworthy
John Galsworthy (; 14 August 1867 – 31 January 1933) was an English novelist and playwright. Notable works include The Forsyte Saga (1906–1921) and its sequels, A Modern Comedy and End of the Chapter. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1932.Laurence Binyon
Robert Laurence Binyon, CH (10 August 1869 – 10 March 1943) was an English poet, dramatist and art scholar. His most famous work, "For the Fallen", is well known for being used in Remembrance Sunday services.Lewis Namier
Sir Lewis Bernstein Namier (; 27 June 1888 – 19 August 1960) was a British historian of Polish-Jewish background. His best-known works were The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III (1929), England in the Age of the American Revolution (1930) and the History of Parliament series (begun 1940) he edited later in his life with John Brooke.Miriam Rothschild
Dame Miriam Louisa Rothschild (5 August 1908 – 20 January 2005) was a British natural scientist and author with contributions to zoology, entomology, and botany.Norman H. Baynes
Norman Hepburn Baynes, FBA (1877 – 1961) was a noted 20th-century British historian of the Byzantine Empire.Robert Blake, Baron Blake
Robert Norman William Blake, Baron Blake, (23 December 1916 – 20 September 2003), was an English historian and peer. He is best known for his 1966 biography of Benjamin Disraeli, and for The Conservative Party from Peel to Churchill, which grew out of his 1968 Ford lectures.Sheldonian Theatre
The Sheldonian Theatre, located in Oxford, England, was built from 1664 to 1669 after a design by Christopher Wren for the University of Oxford. The building is named after Gilbert Sheldon, chancellor of the University at the time and the project's main financial backer. It is used for music concerts, lectures and University ceremonies, but not for drama until 2015 when the Christ Church Dramatic Society staged a production of The Crucible by Arthur Miller.Thomas Henry Huxley
Thomas Henry Huxley (4 May 1825 – 29 June 1895) was an English biologist and anthropologist specialising in comparative anatomy. He is known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his advocacy of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.The stories regarding Huxley's famous debate in 1860 with Samuel Wilberforce were a key moment in the wider acceptance of evolution and in his own career, although historians think that the surviving story of the debate is a later fabrication. Huxley had been planning to leave Oxford on the previous day, but, after an encounter with Robert Chambers, the author of Vestiges, he changed his mind and decided to join the debate. Wilberforce was coached by Richard Owen, against whom Huxley also debated about whether humans were closely related to apes.
Huxley was slow to accept some of Darwin's ideas, such as gradualism, and was undecided about natural selection, but despite this he was wholehearted in his public support of Darwin. Instrumental in developing scientific education in Britain, he fought against the more extreme versions of religious tradition.
Originally coining the term in 1869, Huxley elaborated on "agnosticism" in 1889 to frame the nature of claims in terms of what is knowable and what is not. Huxley statesAgnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle... the fundamental axiom of modern science... In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration... In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. Use of that term has continued to the present day (see Thomas Henry Huxley and agnosticism). Much of Huxley's agnosticism is influenced by Kantian views on human perception and the ability to rely on rational evidence rather than belief systems.Huxley had little formal schooling and was virtually self-taught. He became perhaps the finest comparative anatomist of the later 19th century. He worked on invertebrates, clarifying relationships between groups previously little understood. Later, he worked on vertebrates, especially on the relationship between apes and humans. After comparing Archaeopteryx with Compsognathus, he concluded that birds evolved from small carnivorous dinosaurs, a theory widely accepted today.
The tendency has been for this fine anatomical work to be overshadowed by his energetic and controversial activity in favour of evolution, and by his extensive public work on scientific education, both of which had significant effects on society in Britain and elsewhere. Huxley’s 1893 Romanes Lecture, “Evolution and Ethics” is exceedingly influential in China; the Chinese translation of Huxley’s lecture even transformed the Chinese translation of Darwin’s Origin of Species.William Inge (priest)
William Ralph Inge (; 1860–1954) was an English author, Anglican priest, professor of divinity at Cambridge, and Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, which provided the appellation by which he was widely known, Dean Inge. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature three times.