Robert Heath Lock and His Textbook of Genetics, 1906
A. W. F. Edwards


Robert Heath Lock (1879–1915), a Cambridge botanist associated with William Bateson and R. C. Punnett, published his book Recent Progress in the Study of Variation, Heredity, and Evolution in 1906. This was a remarkable textbook of genetics for one appearing so early in the Mendelian era. It covered not only Mendelism but evolution, natural selection, biometry, mutation, and cytology. It ran to five editions but was, despite its success, largely forgotten following Lock’s early death in 1915. Nevertheless it was the book that inspired H. J. Muller to do genetics and was remembered by A. H. Sturtevant as the source of the earliest suggestion that linkage might be related to the exchange of parts between homologous chromosomes. Here we also put forward evidence that it had a major influence on the statistician and geneticist R. A. Fisher at the time he was a mathematics student at Cambridge.

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