Romanes Lecture

The Romanes Lecture is a prestigious free public lecture given annually at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, England.

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.

List of Romanes lecturers and lecture subjects














See also


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.

  • Romanes lectures, University of Oxford, 1986–2002, Oxford, Bodleian Library: MSS. Eng. c. 7027, Top. Oxon. c. 827
  • Oxford lectures on philosophy, 1910–1923, Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1908–23.
  • Oxford lectures on history, 1904–1923, Oxford, The Clarendon Press 1904–23, which includes "Frontiers", by Lord Curzon, the Romanes lecture for 1907, "Biological analogies in history", by Theodore Roosevelt, the Romanes lecture for 1910, "The imperial peace" by Sir W. M. Ramsay, the Romanes lecture for 1913 and "Montesquieu" by Sir Courtenay Ilbert, the Romanes lecture for 1904.
  • J.B. Bury, Romances of chivalry on Greek soil, being the Romanes lecture for 1911, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1911.
  • Sir E. Ray Lankester: Romanes Lecture, Nature and Man, Oxford University Press, 1905


  1. ^ Never delivered, due to Acton's illness, but many notes are extant, see Herbert Butterfield, Man and His Past (1955), p. 63, and p.234 of A History of the University of Cambridge: 1870-1990 by Christopher Brooke, CUP, ISBN 0-521-34350-X
  2. ^ Sen, Amartya (1999). Reason before identity. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199513895.

External links

1920 in the United Kingdom

Events from the year 1920 in the United Kingdom.

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D. M. S. Watson

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Donald Tovey

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Edward Bagnall Poulton

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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.

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George Porter

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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.

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John Galsworthy

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Laurence Binyon

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Lewis Namier

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Miriam Rothschild

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Robert Blake, Baron Blake

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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.

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