E.B. Ford

From Academic Kids

Professor Edmund Brisco "Henry" Ford, F.R.S. (23rd April 1901 - 2nd January 1988) was a British ecological geneticist. At a young age he became interested in lepidoptera, the group of insects which includes butterflies and moths.



Ford was a pupil and follower of Ronald Fisher. Like Fisher, he continued the Anglo-American natural selection vs genetic drift feud, particularly with Sewall Wright, who Ford believed put too much emphasis on the power of genetic drift. He was an experimentalist, and wanted to test evolution in nature. See his magnum opus Ecological Genetics (Ford, 1964 & later editions). However, note that some of his work has been criticised. Nevertheless, he laid much of the groundwork for more modern studies, which also benefit from biochemical techniques now available. In 1954 he won the Royal Society's Darwin Medal.

Amongst Ford's many publications, perhaps the most popularly successful was the first book in the New Naturalist series, Butterflies (Ford, 1945). Ford also went on in 1954 to write another book in the series, one of only a very few authors to have done so.

Ford never married and did not have any children, prompting suggestions that he was homosexual. Ford was an eccentric so biographies are interesting to say the least. Marren (1995) has a biographical chapter. Hooper (2002) gives an interesting account of Ford and his relationship with Bernard Kettlewell and Kettlewell's work on melanism in the peppered moth, Biston betularia. However, it has had scathing reviews (see for example, Clark 2003), as it appears to support creationism. He also had a biographical memoir from The Royal Society (Clark 1995 (?)).


  • Marren P. (1995). The New Naturalists. HarperCollins: London
  • Clarke B (1995). Edmund Brisco Ford. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society of London ?:147


(NB: by date, not alphabetically)

  • Ford E.B. (1931). Mendelism and Evolution. Methuen, London.
  • Carpenter G.D.H. and E.B. Ford (1933) Mimicry. Methuen, London
  • Ford E.B. (1938). The Study of Heredity. Butterworth, London. 2nd Edn OUP.
  • Ford E.B. (1942, 7th edn 1973). Genetics for Medical Students Chapman and Hall: London.
  • Ford E.B. (1945, 3rd edn 1977). New Naturalist 1: Butterflies. Collins: London.
  • Ford E.B. (1955, 3rd edn 1972). New Naturalist 30: Moths. HarperCollins: London
  • Ford E.B. (1964), 4th edn 1975). 'Ecological Genetics'. Chapman and Hall: London
  • Ford E.B. (1965). Genetic Polymorphisms. Faber and Faber: London
  • Ford E.B. (1976). Genes and Adaptation Institute of Biology studies. Edward Arnold: London
  • Ford E.B. (1979). Understanding Genetics. Faber and Faber: London
  • Ford E.B. (1981). Taking Genetics into the Countryside. Weidenfeld and Nicholson: London
  • Ford E.B. and J.S. Haywood (1984). Church treasures of the Oxford District. Alan Sutton: Gloucester (N.B. This is not on genetics!)

Dedicated works

  • Creed R (ed) (1971) Ecological Genetics and Evolution: Essays in Honour of E.B.Ford. Blackwell, Oxford.
  • Kettlewell H.B.D. The Evolution of Melanism. (Jointly dedicated to Ford and the Nuffield Foundation
  • Vane-Wright R.I. and Ackery P.R. (1984) The Biology of Butterflies. Symposia of the Royal Entomological Society of London no 11.

External links

  1. Papers co-written with Ronald Fisher are available on the University of Adelaide's website http://www.library.adelaide.edu.au/digitised/fisher/index.html

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