Enchanted by Daphne is legendary ecologist Peter Grant's personal account of his remarkable life and career. In this revelatory book, Grant takes readers from his childhood in World War II–era Britain to his ongoing research today in the Galápagos archipelago, vividly describing what it is like to do fieldwork in one of the most magnificent yet inhospitable places on Earth. This is also the story of two brilliant and courageous biologists as they raised a family together while balancing the demands of professional lives that would take them to the far corners of the globe.
In 1973, Grant and his wife Rosemary embarked on a journey that would fundamentally change how we think about evolution. Over the next four decades, they visited the Galápagos every year to observe Darwin's famous finches on the remote, uninhabited island of Daphne Major. Documenting how eighteen species have diversified from a single ancestral species, they demonstrated that we could actually see and measure evolution in a natural setting. Grant recounts the blind alleys and breathtaking triumphs of this historic research as he and Rosemary followed in Darwin's footsteps – and ushered in a new era in ecology.
A wonderfully absorbing portrait of a life in science, Enchanted by Daphne is an unforgettable chronicle of the travels and discoveries of one of the world's most influential naturalists.
Peter R. Grant is the Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology Emeritus at Princeton University. His books include Ecology and Evolution of Darwin’s Finches and (with B. Rosemary Grant) 40 Years of Evolution: Darwin’s Finches on Daphne Major Island (both Princeton).
"In more than 40 years of painstaking measurements, the Grants mapped how serendipitous changes in weather and habitat changed the lives and beaks of finches. Peter Grant is similarly attuned to the role of happenstance in his own life."
– Emily Bobrow, Wall Street Journal
"Captivating, informative, and utterly exhilarating: a memorable memoir by Charles Darwin's successor. If anyone ever needed evidence for the value of long-term field studies, this is it. I couldn't stop reading."
– Tim Birkhead, author of Birds and Us: A 12,000-Year History from Cave Art to Conservation
"Enchanted by Daphne is an engaging and lively read that nicely combines recollections of Peter Grant's remarkable scientific and personal journey. In particular, I would highly recommend this book to undergraduate or graduate students just embarking on their scientific careers because it shows that taking a straight and preplanned path is far from necessary for success in science, and that following your interests and curiosity leads to a very interesting, joyful, and fulfilling life."
– Catherine Peichel, University of Bern
"A brilliant account of Peter and Rosemary Grant's groundbreaking research on Darwin's finches. Enchanted by Daphne takes us from remote natural reserves to the cultural capitals of the world, painting an intimate portrait of the couple's day-to-day work and family life and recounting stimulating encounters with leading scientists. You will be enchanted by this richly nuanced and well-written book."
– Uli Reyer, University of Zurich