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John Chapman (1821–1894) was a publisher who had medical training and was based at 142 Strand, London.

His entry in the Concise Dictionary of National Biography, reads: "Chapman, John (1822-1894) physician, author, publisher; apprencticed at Worksop and was in business in Adelaide; studied medicine in Paris and at St George's Hospital, London; publisher and bookseller in London; editor and proprietor of Westminster Review, 1851; graduated in medicine at St Andrew's University 1857, and practised as physician; wrote medical and other works."[1]

In 1846 he published the first English translation of David Strauss' Life of Jesus, translated by Mary Ann Evans, later better known by her pen name of George Eliot. Seven years later he published her translation of Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity.

He acquired the philosophical radical journal the Westminster Review in 1851, and provided a platform for emerging ideas of evolution. His assistant Mary Anne Evans brought together authors including Francis William Newman, W. R. Greg, Harriet Martineau and the young journalist Herbert Spencer, and later John Stuart Mill, William Carpenter, Robert Chambers, George Holyoake and Thomas Huxley.

Herbert Spencer "despaired of getting his sociological writings published until Chapman took him on. (It was he, not Darwin, who coined the phrase "the survival of the fittest".) Thomas Huxley, later famous as the most ardent supporter of Darwinism, calling himself Darwin's bulldog and cheerfully going into battle with bishops over On the Origin of Species while Darwin lay low at his home in Kent, was plucked from poverty and obscurity by Chapman. His first paid employment was as scientific reviewer on the Westminster Review, the radical quarterly periodical that Chapman bought in 1851 and turned into the best journal of the century." [2]

Chapman subsequently became a qualified specialist in sickness and psychological medicine, and in 1865 Charles Darwin invited Dr. Chapman to Downe and gave him a long list of the symptoms he had suffered from for 25 years. Chapman prescribed a spinal freezing treatment.[3]

In 19th century Britain there was high-class patronage of Hydropathy. Charles Darwin was a user of it and his old friend Dr. James Manby Gully (1808-83) had a thriving hydropathic institution in Malvern. [4] Similarly, he was connected to John Chapman, a homeopath in London and a friend of Thomas Huxley. According to Emma Darwin's diary, John Chapman visited Darwin on 20 May 1865. Chapman was proprietor and editor of the Westminster Review, to which Huxley had been a regular contributor."[5] For his woes, Chapman had Darwin using bags of ice applied to the spine.


  • Diarrhœa and cholera: their nature, origin, and treatment through the agency of the nervous system, John Chapman, 1866
  • The medical institutions of the United Kingdom: a history exemplifying the evils of over-legislation, John Chapman, 1870
  • Neuralgia and kindred diseases of the nervous system: their nature, causes, and treatment: also, a series of cases, preceded by an analytical exposition of them, exemplifying the principles and practice of neuro-dynamic medicine, John Chapman, 1873
  • Cholera curable: a demonstration of the causes, non-contagiousness, and successful treatment of the disease, John Chapman, 1885
  • George Eliot & John Chapman: with Chapman's Diaries, Gordon S. Haight, 1940[6]


  1. ^ CDNB, Oxford, Vol. 1, p.524
  2. ^,,1938736,00.html Rosemary Ashton, The Smart Set, The Guardian, 4 November 2006
  3. ^ Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin (London: Michael Joseph, the Penguin Group, 1991). ISBN 0-7181-3430-3
  4. ^ Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin: the Life of a Tormented Evolutionist, 1990, pp.364 and 392
  5. ^ The Darwin project
  6. ^ Archived Collections, Wellcome Library, London

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