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Archibald Geikie was born on 28 December 1835 into a middle class professional family from central Edinburgh, whose principal business for at least four generations had been hairdressing. This paper looks at the life and times of an academic young boy and charts his early years and the factors that helped him to develop. He was clearly driven and certainly had an eye for the best chance. Persevering through bouts of serious illness and family monetary problems in his teenage years, he undertook several geological excursions, published reports and secured introductions to many of the significant natural scientists living in Edinburgh at the time. With the help of these contacts, and shrugging off the difficulties that appeared in his path, he achieved by the age of 20 the first step towards his chosen profession and became a geologist with the newly established Geological Survey of Scotland.

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