Did Darwin Really Pinch His Big Idea from Neath's Most Famous Citizen? OPINION: Thepensioner

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KEN JOHN is retired, living in Aberaeron with wife Beryl. But he comes from Neath, and feels that in this year's celebrations of The Origin of Species, the contribution of Neath's most famous citizen - Alfred Russell Wallace - has been neglected. So he ran a meeting in Neath Town Hall.

Neath Port Talbot Cultural Services provided visual aids, operated by his grandson. He described the local environment that helped form Wallace's mind and character. No problem, I thought. I'd written a TV documentary drama about Wallace for the BBC 25 years earlier. It related how Darwin delayed publishing his theory while he amassed evidence for it, but then Wallace independently conceived the same idea, so a short account by Darwin was quickly published, together with Wallace's paper, and they shared the credit.

Elaine Morgan thepensioner Among several recent books I read prior to the Neath meeting was The Darwin Conspiracy by Roy Davies. It claims: "At the heart of that famous historical event lies a deliberate and iniquitous case of intellectual theft, deceit and lies perpetrated by Charles Darwin", while "two of the greatest Victorian scientists were willing accomplices".

I greatly admire Wallace, but I greatly admire Darwin too. I thought: "Yeah, right? Like the Duke of Edinburgh plotting to murder Diana." But I read on.

Apparently this suspicion has been knocking around for decades. Davies quotes research by nine previous investigators. …