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March 21, 1977

Creativity Requires Nurture

JAMA. 1977;237(12):1205. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270390021018

IT APPEARS likely that the times have a lot to do with fostering and promoting creativity or suppressing it. Alfred Kroeber1 put forward evidence that people possessing higher civilization have produced cultural products only intermittently during relatively small fractions of their time span. He pointed to the lack of genius in England during the century between 1450 and 1550 and to a whole series of genius of all sorts between 1550 and 1650. The same holds true in innumerable other instances in history, for example, in the Germany of 1550 to 1650 and 1700 to 1800. It would seem to follow that some born with an endowment for creativity have been submerged by the times into which they were born.

One period that stands out because of the genius that appeared then was 1809 and the years immediately following. Born in 1809 were Charles Darwin, Edward Fitzgerald, William Gladstone,