Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)

British biologist. Grandfather of writer Aldous Huxley, biologist Julian Huxley and physiologist Sir Andrew Huxley. Born on 4 May 1825 in Middlesex.

Despite having little formal education, in 1842 Huxley won a scholarship to study medicine at Charing Cross Hospital, and graduated in 1845. From 1846 to 1850 he served as an assistant surgeon aboard the Navy’s HMS Rattlesnake, during which time began studying marine biology, particularly invertebrates. His findings were published by the Royal and Linnean Societies in England.

Huxley returned to England as a respected member of the scientific community. He soon became acquainted with leading scientists such as Charles Darwin. In 1851 he was elected to the Royal Society, then in 1854 he became Professor of Natural History at London’s School of Mines.

When Darwin published On the Origin of the Species in 1859, Huxley became one of his most ardent supporters, earning himself the nickname ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’. In 1863 Huxley published his most famous work, Evidence on Man's Place in Nature.

He was elected President of the Royal Society in 1881, and served until his retirement in 1885. Huxley’s major achievements include the reclassification of the animal kingdom, particularly with relation to marine creatures and birds. He also founded the field of craniology, and coined the term ‘agnosticism’. Huxley died in Eastbourne on 29 June 1895.

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