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biography, Darwin's Bulldog
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| Thomas Huxley was born into somewhat
straitened family circumstances in Ealing near London on May 4,
1825. He was not given much formal education but picked up much
knowledge of languages and science through his own efforts. In
his very early teens, became involved with a brother-in-law's
irregular medical practice firstly in the English midlands and
then in London where he subsequently became apprenticed to a
doctor who practiced in an area featuring many poverty stricken
From 1841 he received some formal medical training in a somewhat professionally disrespected and cheap private training college and passed several exams with distinction and was awarded a number of prizes. He, and one of his brothers, were fortunate in being awarded free places as students at the recently opened Charing Cross Hospital. A few free places were reserved for gentlemen's sons who's families could not afford the fees. Thomas Huxley received his medical degree from the University of London in 1845 and was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons.
In 1846 he entered the Royal Navy as assistant surgeon. During protracted voyagings in Australasian waters he performed scientific researches on the surface animals of those seas. The results of his observations on the Medusa family of jellyfish led to the recognition, under the Linnaean system of classification, of the zoological class Hydrozoa. He returned to England in 1850, was made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1851, and was appointed professor of natural history and paleontology at the Royal School of Mines in 1854.
Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace jointly presented a paper outlining a Theory of Evolutionary Origin of Species to the Linnaean Society in London in June 1858.
Thomas Huxley was remarkable for his early and active support for this theory of Evolution, and even referred to himself as "Darwin's Bulldog."
Thomas Huxley's lectures on organic evolution, which he gave to numerous lay and scientific audiences at various times and places from 1860 until his death, contributed greatly to the acceptance of the theory of Evolution by the scientific community and the wider public.
In 1863 he published a work of his own entitled Zoological Evidences as to Man's Place in Nature which was the first work to make the yet more controversial assertion that mankind should be viewed as being a product of evolutionary processes. He also wrote essays on theology and philosophy from an "agnostic" viewpoint. He had himself coined the term agnostic to refer to those who believed that nothing is likely to be known of God or anything but material phenomena.
Thomas Henry Huxley died on June 29, 1895.
Thomas Henry Huxley
an outline biography