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`these poems are a subtle, revealing accompaniment to any biography of the man’ — Vogue

`a deft act of collaboration between the living and the dead, one melding easily with the other’.

Ruth Padel’s remarkable memoir of her great-great-grandfather is a sequence of exquisite, precise and moving poems that cover his science, travels, marriage and family life. Once I started reading I could not put it down until I had reached the end, and then I turned back for the pleasure of reading again.
- Claire Tomalin

A fascinating, very rich book. It excitingly combines several large tasks and shows that Darwin’s science sprang from the same aesthetic impulse as poetry. With sympathy and grace, Padel moves deftly between between science, love and family; between the vast processes of evolution and a personal life.
- Sean O’Brien

A very bold book, probably unique: a life in verse, even painting parallel lives that influenced Darwin’s like that of Alfred Russel Wallace. We all have our own Darwin, but poetry gets under the skin of the subject in a way conventional biography cannot match.
- Richard Fortey

Ruth Padel’s control of cadence and poetic diction is daring and exciting; her rhythm brilliant and subtle; the play with stanza form and technical tricks stunning and deeply impressive. Her handling of details and quotations from Darwin’s life, letters and books is a lesson to biographers and poets alike.
- Colm Toibin

Darwin: A Life in Poems

Published by Chatto and Windus
ISBN-10: 0701183853
ISBN-13: 978-0701183851

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2 Responses to “Darwin: A Life in Poems”

  1. Rachel Says:

    I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this, by how much detail of Darwin’s life was conveyed in the poems. My favourite, in terms of the impact Darwin’s discoveries had on the spirit of the age, was Notebook M. The final two lines summed up for me that feeling of almost catestrophic realisation:-

    “Once you have granted on species may changed
    to another, the whole fabric totters and falls.’ “

  2. Margaret Says:

    This is a terrific Biography of Darwin’s life by Ruth Padel, his 2xgreat grandaughter. Her excellent poems distill his life, giving a wonderful feel for his scientific work and the conflict he had between that and his religious beliefs and those of his wife. Padel gets right to the heart of every aspect of his life, including his ill health and deaths of his children. Two poems of note are “Lavender Light in a Leap Year” and “Notebook B – He finds his own Definition of Grandeur”.