Darwin: A Life in Poems

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Chatto & Windus, 2009 - Biographical poetry - 141 pages
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An intimate and highly original interpretation of the life and work of Charles Darwin, by his great great grand-daughter, acclaimed poet, Ruth Padel.

Charles Darwin lost his mother at the age of eight, repressed all memory of her, and poured his passion into solitary walks, collecting newts and shooting. His five year voyage on the Beagle, in his twenties, changed his life. Afterwards, in London in 1838, he began publishing his findings and working privately on groundbreaking theories about the development of animal species, including human beings. He had a very happy marriage with his cousin Emma, and his emotions were no longer frozen, but both were painfully aware of the gulf between her devout Christian faith and his increasing religious doubt. The death of three of their ten children accentuated this gulf. For him, death and extinction were part of the survival of the fittest, for her, it was a prelude to an afterlife.

In this new sequence of poems, using multiple viewpoints, Ruth Padel follows not only the development of the great scientist’s professional thought, and the drama of the discovery of evolution, but also imagines the fluctuating emotions within Darwin, the private man and tender father. It is a moving and powerful tribute to her famous forbear.

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Contents

Finding the Name in the Flower
3
The Chapel School The Year My Mother Died Stealing
11
The Coddington Microscope
17
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Ruth Padel is a prize-winning poet, Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and Zoological Society of London, and first Resident Writer at Somerset House, London. Her poetry collections include Rembrandt Would Have Loved You, Voodoo Shop and The Soho Leopard, all shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. She has also published two much-loved books on reading contemporary poetry, 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem and The Poem and the Journey, and a highly acclaimed nature book, Tigers in Red Weather, shortlisted in the US for the Kiriyama Prize.

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