Edward Tylor (1832 - 1917)

Edward Tylor (1832 - 1917)

Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, an English Anthropologist, was born on October 2, 1832 in London, England. Edward followed in his older brother Alfred’s footsteps by attending school at Tottenham, but when each reached the age of 16, they were taken out of school to work for the family business. After spending seven years behind a desk at the firm, Edward�s health started to deteriorate. For the sake of his lungs, he was forced to travel. In 1855, with money not being a problem, he was able to travel at a leisurely pace and his journeys brought him to Mexico.

Edward Tylor is credited with sparking interest in anthropological science in England as a result of his extensive researches. In 1883, Tylor became the head of the University Museum at Oxford and was a Professor of Anthropology from 1896 until 1909. While teaching, he laid down the structure of courses needed to graduate with a degree in Anthropology at Oxford University. This structure served as a model to other Universities. 

His work on primitive people’s mentality, in particular on animism (the idea that all living things were produced by a spiritual force and have souls, and also that spirits and demons exist), made great advances to the understanding of primitive religions. Published in 1881, Tylor’s first book, Anthropology, is still considered to be modern in its cultural concepts and theories. His other literary achievements include: Researches into the Early History of Mankind (1865), Primitive Culture (1871), and Anahuac (1861). 


1871 - Attained the honor of becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society before the age of forty 

1875 - Received the degree of Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of Oxford

1883 - Appointed Keeper of the University Museum 

1884 - First to preside over the newly formed Anthropological Section of the British Association 

1884 - Given a Readership in Anthropology 

1896 - Given a Professorship in Anthropology 

1903 - Received Honorary Fellowship at Balliol 

1909 - Retired from Oxford with title of Emeritus Professor, at which time he returned to Wellington in Somerset 

1912 - Received a belated knighthood 

1917 - Died in Wellington on January 2, 1917 

Leopold, JoanCulture in Comparative and Evolutionary Perspective: E. B. Tylor and the Making of Primitive Culture . (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 1980)

Marett, R.R. Modern Sociologists - Tylor. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1936.

"Tylor, Sir Edward Burnett." New Illustrated Columbia Encyclopedia. 1979 ed.

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