A Cambridge Childhood (1861–1882)
In the beginning was the Word, … And the Word was made flesh … .
Gospel according to St. John
There are stories within stories. To the extent that the story of William Bateson can be demarcated it begins in 1809 in the city of Shrewsbury in England. It ends, perhaps, in 2009, in no specific location, but in the minds of people throughout the world when celebrating the two hundredth anniversary of Darwin's birth. By that time computer analyses of DNA sequences (bioinformatics) had revolutionized evolutionary biology. The informational basis of heredity (“the word”) was explicit. As will be related here, this seems to have been an essential precondition for the full recognition of Bateson and his work. Our story begins with a general overview and an introduction of the main characters.
The two hundred years 1809–2009 divides conveniently into four equal parts with three major chronological milestones – 1859, 1909 and 1959. In 1809 Jean-Baptiste Lamarck published Philosophie...