Darwin’s Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution


Darwin’s Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution by Rebecca Stott

Synopsis: Soon after the publication of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin received an unsettling letter that accused him of taking credit for a theory that had already been discovered by others. Realizing his error of omission, Darwin tried to trace all of the natural philosophers who had laid the groundwork for his theory, but he found that history had already forgotten many of them.

Rebecca Stott goes in search of these ghosts, telling the epic story of the discovery of evolution and natural selection from Aristotle to the ninth-century Arab writer Al-Jahiz to Leonardo da Vinci to the brilliant naturalists of the Jardin des Plantes to Alfred Wallace and Erasmus Darwin, and finally to Charles Darwin himself. Evolution was not discovered single-handedly. It was an idea that was advanced over centuries by daring individuals across the globe who had the imagination to speculate on nature’s extraordinary ways—and the courage to articulate such speculations at a time when to do so was often considered heresy.

Published: June 2012 | ISBN-13: 978-0812981704

Mini-bio: Rebecca Stott was born in Cambridge in 1964 and grew up in Brighton. She won a scholarship to Brighton and Hove High School for Girls and then studied English and Art History at York University, where she later also completed an MA and PhD. Rebecca writes both fiction and literary non-fiction. She is the author of several books on the history of science, including a biography of Charles Darwin called Darwin and the Barnacle (Faber 2003) and a history of Darwin’s predecessors, Darwin’s Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists (Bloomsbury, 2013). She now works for half the year as a Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich and the other half as a freelance writer and broadcaster. – Janklow & Nesbit UK

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[Image Credit: http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/issue/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/darwins-ghosts.jpg ]


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