Janet Browne’s first volume of her biography of Charles Darwin, Voyaging, received considerable critical acclaim. This concluding volume covers Darwin’s publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, the impact it had on Victorian society, and, in return, its effect on his own life. It sees Darwin attempting to adjust to his new role as a controversial and much-debated figure. Always a private man by nature, Darwin suddenly found himself seen as a divisive figure, reviewed and discussed in circles that stretched far beyond the boundaries of Victorian science, one of the leading thinkers of the nineteenth century, both reviled and admired.
The second half of Darwin’s life was inextricably interwoven with the story of The Origin of Species, and this biography looks closely at the wider publishing world of Victorian England and the different audiences that responded to his ideas. Darwin relied heavily on his friends and family, his publishing contacts, his correspondence network, and the expanding geographical and economic horizons of Victorian Britain to distribute his views to the furthest corners of Empire. Much of his achievement rested on the domestic `factory’ that he created at his home in the Kent countryside from where he despatched thousands of letters enlisting supporters, thanking reviewers, and discussing tactics with friends. His house was also a refuge, where he could indulge his mysterious illnesses. This biography also shows what it was like to become a scientific celebrity. It describes the ways in which new forms of knowledge could be distributed and ultimately made acceptable in Victorian Britain.
“Magisterial” – Sunday Telegraph
“This exceptional biography takes us on an exhilarating journey …” – Financial Times
“Richly informative and a delight to read.” – TLS