Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry Into its Laws and Consequences
Galton, Francis
The idea of investigating the subject of hereditary genius 
occurred to me during the course of a purely ethnological 
inquiry, into the mental peculiarities of different races; 
when the fact, that characteristics cling to families, was 
so frequently forced on my notice as to induce me to pay 
especial attention to that branch of the subject. I began 
by thinking over the dispositions and achievements of my 
contemporaries at school, at college, and in after life, 
and was surprised to find how frequently ability seemed 
to go by descent. Then I made a cursory examination 
into the kindred of about four hundred illustrious men of 
all periods of history, and the results were such, in my 
own opinion, as completely to establish the theory that 
genius was hereditary, under limitations that required to 
be investigated. Thereupon I set to work to gather a 
large amount of carefully selected biographical data, and 
in the meantime wrote two articles on the subject, which 
appeared in Macmillan's Magazine in June and in August, 
1865. I also attacked the subject from many different 
sides and sometimes with very minute inquiries, because 
it was long before the methods I finally adopted were 
matured. I mention all this, to show that the foundation 
for my theories is broader than appears in the book,, and


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