The first of two volumes that aims to constitute the definitive biography of Darwin from the associate editor of the eight-volume Correspondence of Charles Darwin. Browne comprehensively explores Darwin's world, his character and his intellect to solve the central enigma: how did this amiable young gentleman, born into a prosperous provincial English family, grow into a thinker capable of challenging the most basic principles of religion and science? This first volume draws on previously unpublished material, recreates his childhood years, his long apprenticeship on the Beagle, his subsequent ill-health and the travails of his family life, the scientific community around him, and ends with him refining the ideas that would fall on the world like a thunderclap in On the Origin of Species.
Janet Browne is a zoologist and historian of science. She is at present Professor in the History of Biology at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College, London.
"Brilliantly penetrating [...] utterly riveting"
– Daily Telegraph
"An astonishing fresh picture of the great naturalist [...] Janet Browne's book is a triumph, the closest we can come to getting inside Darwin's mind"
– Sunday Telegraph
"Browne knows how to spellbind the reader [...] The definitive Darwin biography"
– Ernst Mayr, New York Newsday
"An authoritative and highly readable biography which uncovers the complex process of scientific discovery"
"It is wonderful and marvellous, even magisterial"
– Stephen Jay Gould, New York Review of Books
"Splendid. Her qualifications as a trained biologist, historian of science and skilled editor of the correspondence out her in an ideal position [...] A wonderful read."
"Janet Browne has a minute knowledge of Darwin and his world [...] She gives the most intimate account so far of the making of the author of Origin of Species."
– Evening Standard