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"Huxley, Lubbock, and Half a Dozen Others": Professionals and Gentlemen in the Formation of the X Club, 1851-1864

Ruth Barton
Isis
Vol. 89, No. 3 (Sep., 1998), pp. 410-444
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/237141
Page Count: 35
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Abstract

Since Frank Turner's classic studies of the mid 1970s, social historians of science have appealed to the X Club as a paradigmatic example of the professionalizing impetus in mid-Victorian science and to members of the club, especially John Tyndall and T. H. Huxley, as exemplars of the challenge posed by men of science to the cultural authority of the clergy. So strong is this interpretation that the significance of amateur Anglican members, such as the London banker John Lubbock, is neglected. This account of the formation of the X Club reexamines the relationship between professional science and gentlemanly culture, showing that participation in gentlemanly networks and alliances with gentlemanly amateurs were means by which the new professionals exercised cultural leadership. The later power of the X Club is widely acknowledged, but although some historians suspect conspiracy from the beginning, others interpret it as a group of friends that became powerful as the members became important. By demonstrating the extent of joint action before the formation of the club in 1864, this prehistory shows the "just friends" account of the club, which owes its authority to Huxley, to be good politics but bad history.

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