Weekly Book Special: Annie’s Box: Charles Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution, Novel on Darwin Film Creation

January 25, 2010 at 10:33 am Leave a comment

Weekly Book Special: January 25th-31st

In cinemas this week is the film Creation, about Charles Darwin, who proposed the groundbreaking theory of evolution in the 1850s. The film is based on the novel:

Annie’s Box:
Charles Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution

by Randal Keynes (Hardcover, 331 pages, 2001, $30.00)

Annie's Box

Annie was Charles Darwin’s favorite child before she died at 10 years old. In her writing box were keepsakes that illuminated Darwin’s work and his love for his wife and children.

Randal Keynes, Darwin’s great-great Grandson and guardian of the box, uses Annie’s story as the starting point in this book, which makes a major contribution to our understanding of Darwin.

“It’s such an intensely personal memoir, because Randal had access to all the journals, letters, writings, objects of the Darwin family,” the director of Creation, Jon Amiel, told McClatchy-Tribune News Service. “I found these remote Victorians suddenly becoming absolutely real, living, moving people.”

Keynes conjures up a world in which great thinkers – including Carlyle, Babbage and George Eliot – were struggling with ideas in science and humanity that shook mankind to its core.

At the forefront was Darwin himself, whose thinking about evolution and human nature was profoundly influenced by his life with his family, pictured in this intimate portrait of the man and his private world.

“Your book had me from the very first minute,” National Public Radio host Terry Gross tells Keynes in a radio interview with Keynes. “It’s such a contemporary way of thinking about marriage — trying to balance between work and marriage, and here’s Darwin trying to figure it out.”

Michael Shermer of TrueSlant calls the novel “a moving portrait of the middle-aged Darwin—after the five-year voyage of the Beagle and before the white-bearded sage of Down basked in scientific triumph.”

“[Annie’s] death strengthened [Darwin’s] belief in the bleak, amoral character of natural selection,” writes Robin McKie in The Guardian. “A creature’s deserved fate had little to do with its prospects for survival, he realised.”

“When the publisher finally sends [Darwin] his copy of the book, he says, ‘How wonderful to see my child,'” Keynes told Seán Martinfield of the San Francisco Sentinel. “He often talks about his most cherished ideas as ‘my child’ and link that with Annie.”

Purchase this book for $30:
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