Mantell’s life and reputation

Key secondary texts on Mantells’ life, work and times are:

  • Cadbury, Deborah. 1998. The dinosaur hunters: a story of scientific rivalry and the discovery of the prehistoric world. London: Fourth Estate
  • Dean, Dennis R. A bibliography with supplementary essays. New York: Scholars, Facsimiles & Reprints, 1998. Includes Gideon Mantell Bicentenary address given at Falmer and Lewes 1990.
  • Dean, Dennis R. Gideon Mantell and the discovery of dinosaurs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999
  • McGowan, Christopher. The Dragon Seekers: how an extraordinary circle of fossilists discovered the dinosaurs and paved the way for Darwin. Cambridge: Perseus Publishing, 2001

Also see Spokes, Sydney 1927. Gideon Algernon Mantell LLD, FRCS, FRS, surgeon and geologist. London: John Bales & Danielson contains additonal materials such as letters and other correspondence.

A great deal has been written about the rivalry between Mantell and Richard Owen founder of the Natural History Museum in London. See Deborah Cadbury The Dinosaur Hunters and  Owen was widely assumed to have been behind an attempt to undermine Mantell’s reputation immediately after his premature death at the age of 62 in an anonymously published obituary.

There is a description of this relationship in the recently launched booklet entitled Gideon Mantell: A Remarkable Life  mantell-booklet-second-edition (published in October 2016 to tie in with the Lewes Fossil Festival  and slightly amended and updated here). This 16 page booklet written by local journalist and author John May outlines Mantell’s life and works and his contribution to knowledge of these fossilised giant ancient creatures. Most people know that Mantell found and identified the Iguanodon but do they know that he identified, named and described seven other dinosaurs as well?

To read more of what people wrote about Mantell immediately following his death see the number one of four in a series entitled Momento Mori Momento Mori One which were produced in 2002  by Anthony Brook of West Sussex Geological Society to mark the 150th anniversary of  his death.


A book by William Edmonds The Iguanodon Mystery published in 1979 by  Viking Children’s Books is now sadly out of print although available via Amazon.  Aimed at the younger reader this sets out the story of how Mantell identified the early iguanodon from fragments of fossilised bones and teeth and how the interpreations changed over the years.

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One response to “Mantell’s life and reputation

  1. Pingback: Dr Mantell: physician and accoucheur | Gideon Mantell Blog

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