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Darwin’s Garden

Down House and the Origin of Species

List Price: $15.95

January 12, 2010 | Paperback | 5.2 x 7.9, 272 Pages | ISBN 9781582435589
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"Reveals the man of his time as well as the scientific thinker far ahead of it."
Publishers Weekly

On the Origin of Species was built upon the young Charles Darwin’s observations of the natural world when he circumnavigated the globe as a “gentleman naturalist” on the HMS Beagle. But work on his masterpiece did not begin until five years after his return when he moved into Down House with his family in Kent, England, where he would live for the rest of his life.

For almost twenty years, the garden at Down House was both an inspiration and a laboratory to Darwin. In the orchard, he conducted experiments on pollination. He built a dovecote where he could breed new strains of pigeons that helped him understand the intricacies of generation. On his daily walk along the sandbank, he observed how plants competed for survival. In solitude, he also struggled with the ideas of evolution that had haunted him since his voyage.

Bringing Darwin’s garden to the present day, Michael Boulter unfolds a shining portrait of the formation of one of England’s greatest thinkers and his relationship with the place he loved, and shows how his experiments—conducted more than 150 years ago—are still revealing new proofs as we continue to search for the origins of life.

MICHAEL BOULTER was a professor of paleobiology at the University of East London, and currently works at the Natural History Museum. He is the author of Extinction: Evolution and the End of Man. He lives in London.

Praise

“Reveals the man of his time as well as the scientific thinker far ahead of it.” —Publishers Weekly

“[A]n absorbing book. From the primroses and hot house at Down House, [Boulter] leads us on a voyage not only around Darwin’s thought, but that of his contemporaries and modern biology.” —Sunday Telegraph

“An engaging and fascinating tour through the life and the work of Darwin—and what Darwin’s legacy means for our view of the world.” —Professor Sir Peter Crane, Former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

“The ideas explored are thought-provoking, and there can be no doubt that the garden at Down had an extremely important role in Darwin’s work.” —Nature

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