This edition first published in 1970. Francis Galton has been honoured as the founder of biostatics and one of the creators of modern psychology. His principal aim was to establish a body of statistical knowledge about mental heredity which would result in a new pattern of behaviour for society. The relationship between outstanding men had led him to conclude that mental traits are inherited, and that an ideal society would take advantage of this "fact". In this particular work, which he termed a "Natural History of the English Men of Science of the present day", he examined at great length the antecedents, environment, education and hereditary features of the most prominent men of science in order to establish certain laws relating to heredity. It is a landmark in the transition from introspective to objective methods in biological and psychological research, and the author’s statistical, nonanecdotal approach was to prove immensely fruitful for the development of psychology. Indeed the questionnaire included in the work is probably the earliest in existence.
As Professor Cowan points out in her introduction, historians as well as scientists intent upon a deeper understanding of the Victorian mind will find much of interest in this remarkable book.