June 26, 2012 2:22 PM Subscribe
How were the ideas expressed in The Origin of Species
received among country people and laypersons in Victorian England?
I'm guessing the book was expensive to acquire, either via a lease from a bookseller or at a university library (?). Also, it's not exactly an easy read. How, then, would the Household Words-reading crowd and, further, illiterate and uneducated people, have a) heard about the ideas expressed in The Origin of Species and b) reacted to them? Would, for instance, they read sensational newspaper articles on the subject? Would they have heard about the idea of evolution via word of mouth? Would the ape/man connection be made at all, considering The Descent of Man came out years later? Just how big of a deal was this in popular culture, and how much did it shift the zeitgeist at the time? Eg. if I were a scullery maid, would I even know about this? What about a farmer? How far up the social ladder would you have to go in Victorian culture for Origin of Species to have made a difference in 1859?