John Lubbock, science, and the liberal intellectual

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


John Lubbock's longest-standing scientific research interest was entomology. Some of his earliest systematic investigations of insect and marine life began under the tutelage of Darwin. Darwin shaped the trajectory of, and the programme for, Lubbock's natural history work. However, to understand John Lubbock's identity as a scientist, he must be located within the context of the Victorian ‘intellectual’. This paper traces Lubbock's entomological work from its early development under Darwin to his later work on insect sensory physiology and comparative psychology. Far from being the death of his scientific career, Lubbock's entry into Parliament marked the pinnacle of his career as a scientific intellectual. He built on his early work on invertebrate anatomy, physiology and taxonomy, and on his archaeological and anthropological research to expound his vision of mental evolution. His research on ‘savages’, on ants, bees and wasps, and on his dog, ‘Van’, permitted him to expatiate upon the psychic unity of all sentient beings, which, in turn, underpinned his overarching educational programme.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-87
Number of pages23
JournalNotes and Records of the Royal Society
Issue number1
Early online date11 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2014


  • Lubbock
  • Nineteenth-century science
  • Liberalism
  • Intellectuals


Dive into the research topics of 'John Lubbock, science, and the liberal intellectual'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this