“Malthus? Really? How is he in any way related to natural history?”

Cast your mind back to Darwin’s Origin. What were the two books known to have been among the – if not indeed the – most significant influences on Darwin’s thoughts when writing it? Sir Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology and Thomas  Malthus’ An Essay on the Principle of Population.

Therefor, to those interested in the intellectual history of natural history, word of the publication of the 1803 edition of Malthus’ classic work by Yale University Press this month should be welcome news indeed.

Part of Yale’s Rethinking the Western Tradition series, this newly released edition includes an introduction by editor Shannon C. Stimson, as well as essays:

  • on the historical and political theoretical underpinnings of Malthus’s work by Niall O’Flaherty
  • on Malthus’s influence on concepts of nature by Deborah Valenze
  • on the implications of his population model for political economy by Sir Anthony Wrigley
  • assessing Malthus’s theory in light of modern economic ideas by Kenneth Binmore
  • discussing the Essay’s literary and cultural influence by Karen O’Brien

If you’ve read Darwin’s Origin and ever wanted to dig deeper into all the Malthusian references found in it, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. And if you haven’t yet read Origin, well… as you might well assume, I highly recommend doing so.