Tim Berra

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Darwin & His Children: His Other Legacy


bk darwin childrenWhile much has been written about the life and works of Charles Darwin, the lives of his ten children remain largely unexamined. Most “Darwin books” consider his children as footnotes to the life of their famous father and close with the death of Charles Darwin. This is the only book that deals substantially with the lives of his children from their birth to their death, each in his or her own chapter. Tim Berra’s Darwin and His Children: His Other Legacy explores Darwin’s marriage to his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood, a devout Unitarian, who worried that her husband’s lack of faith would keep them apart in eternity, and describes the early death of three children of this consanguineous marriage. Many of the other children rose to prominence in their own fields. William Darwin became a banker and tended the Darwin family’s substantial wealth. Henrietta Darwin edited Charles’ books and wrote a biography of her mother. Three of Darwin’s sons were knighted and elected Fellows of the Royal Society: Sir George Darwin was the world’s expert on tides, Sir Francis Darwin developed the new field of plant physiology, and Sir Horace Darwin founded the world-class Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company. Major Leonard Darwin was a military man, Member of Parliament, and patron of early genetic research. This book, richly illustrated with photographs of the Darwin family, demonstrates the intellectual atmosphere whirling about the Darwin household, portrays loving family relationships, and explores entertaining vignettes from their lives.

Praise for Darwin & His Children: His Other Legacy: 

“Tim Berra tells many delightful stories in Darwin and His Children. Charles Darwin has always come across both as an extraordinary intellect and as intensely human, and reading about the lives of the ten children he fathered with Emma Wedgwood reinforces that sense. This story of love and respect, joy and tragedy, is interwoven with a record of great insight and achievement across a spectrum of endeavors and generations.”

- Peter C. Doherty, Nobel Laureate, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne Medical School

“Tim Berra presents us with this splendid, well-written, readable view of the Darwin family, especially of the children. Readers will agree that ‘Charles and Emma raised an extraordinary family whose individual members accomplished far more than one would have the right to expect.’ Survivors to adulthood became successful in a wide diverse range of professions, and all are given their places in history. There is no other book like it.”

- Duncan M. Porter, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University; Former Director, Darwin Correspondence Project, Cambridge University

“Through the scholarship and insight so eloquently proffered by leading Darwin scholar Tim Berra, this fine volume introduces us to Darwin the family man. This endearing portrait of a man whom many think of as a cold and calculating evolutionist will surprise the reader by showing the intimacy, love, and care Darwin gave so freely to his children.”

- Donald Johanson, Virginia M. Ullman Chair in Human Origins and Founding Director of the Institute of Human Origins, Arizona State University