Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith
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Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, his revolutionary tract on evolution and the fundamental ideas involved, in 1859. Nearly 150 years later, the theory of evolution continues to create tension between the scientific and religious communities. Challenges about teaching the theory of evolution in schools occur annually all over the country. This same debate raged within Darwin himself, and played an important part in his marriage: his wife, Emma, was quite religious, and her faith gave Charles a lot to think about as he worked on a theory that continues to spark intense debates.
Deborah Heiligman's new biography of Charles Darwin is a thought-provoking account of the man behind evolutionary theory: how his personal life affected his work and vice versa. The end result is an engaging exploration of history, science, and religion for young readers.
Charles and Emma is a 2009 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature.
Jesus tells his disciples that if they follow his teachings, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shall follow me afterward.” But “if a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” Emma could not bear the thought of spending eternity without Charles, of Charles burning in hell. She did not want him to give her his opinion; she asked him just to read it, and then she changed the subject
from Regent’s Park, where he and Emma could go walking together. And now that the dead dog was gone, he assured her, “The little garden is worth its weight in gold.” It was very narrow, but it was ninety feet long, big enough for Charles to pace in every day. He spent the next days working, setting up the house as best he could, hiring a cook and other servants—consulting with Emma and his sisters and Fanny. He also started receiving wedding gifts. One puzzled him: “My good old friend Herbert
ability to focus on the Wallace crisis. Lyell and Hooker took matters into their own hands. They decided that Charles should send them a paper, and they would present it together with Wallace’s essay to the Linnaean Society in London. On June 29, the day after the baby died, Charles wrote to Hooker, “I am quite prostrated & can do nothing but I send Wallace & my abstract of abstract of letter to Asa Gray.” He sent Hooker the sketch of 1844, the exact copy that Hooker had read before. Charles
meeting began, Charles became too ill to attend. He went for yet another water cure instead. So although it became one of the most famous scientific meetings in history, one in which evolution and religion fought on center stage, Charles Darwin was not there. Afterward he heard all about it, first in a letter from Huxley and later from all his friends who attended. This year many of the scientists had gone to Oxford specifically to discuss Charles’s book. Richard Owen, formerly a friend and
William Erasmus (son), 109, 110, 114, 115, 119, 120, 122, 130, 134, 187, 226, 221 and Annie’s illness and death, 139, 141, 152 birth of, 105 at boarding school, 135, 160 career of, 235 at Charles’s funeral, 227 marriage of, 232 observations as infant of, 105–108 Descent of Man, The (Darwin), 208 Dickens, Charles, 6, 49, 76, 80–81 Down House, 115–19 Edmonstone, John, 20 Evans, Mary Ann, 214, 215 Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, The (Darwin), 107, 210 FitzRoy, Robert, 24,