Thursday, March 28, 2013

Darwin's Letters & Stone's The Origin

If I remember correctly, this blog has only covered one biographical novel before -- Scarrow's Young Bloods (which is about Napoleon).  Now it's time to add to that collection.

We begin with yesterday's BBC article "Charles Darwin letters reveal his emotional side:"
In a collection of previously unpublished letters that have been made available online today, naturalist Charles Darwin reveals a highly emotional and personal side. In letters to his closest friend, the botanist Joseph Hooker, he pours out his grief over the death of his daughter-in-law, Amy. He also speaks of his ideas on evolution for the first time - something he writes was like "confessing to a murder". 
Of the many letters that Darwin wrote and received in his life, among the most important were his correspondence with his friend of 40 years, Joseph Hooker. As well as tracking the development of Darwin's scientific ideas, the letters give an intimate insight into a Victorian friendship. Almost the entire collection - more than 1,400 letters - has been published by Cambridge University's Darwin Correspondence Project.
So there you go: all 1,400 (!) letters are online. Knock yourself out, Joe Mastropaolo.

For a novel about Darwin, try The Origin by Irving Stone:
In 1832 at age 22, Charles Darwin was invited to sail with H.M.S. Beagle as a naturalist. The surveying voyage would encircle the globe. Five years later he returned to Plymouth as an experienced naturalist with a growing reputation in England, a priceless collection of rare and unknown plants and creatures, and a set of notebooks containing the germ of an idea about the origin of that was to shake the foundations of accepted wisdom everywhere. This is not only the tale of the Beagle's cruise but the account of a lifetime of intellectual inquiry.

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