On my way back from my Sedgwick pilgrimage last week, I drove past a second-hand bookshop which hadn't been there the last time I visited the area. I cannot resist a second-hand bookshop, so I popped inside.
It was fantastic.
I spent half an hour in the 'Collectors' section, drooling over numerous, old science books before plumping for a copy of The Student's Elements of Geology by Charles Lyell. Then I went upstairs to find an entire section labelled simply Darwin. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. In the end, I bought:
- HMS Beagle: the ship that changed the course of history by Keith S. Thomson
- Extreme Measures: the dark visions and bright ideas of Francis Galton by Martin Brookes
- Humboldt's Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Latin American Journey that changed the way we see the world by Gerard Helferich
- The Naming of Names: the search for order in the world of plants by Anna Pavord
- The British Journal for the History of Science (BJHS), vol. 24, part 2, no. 81 (June 1991): 'Darwin and Geology'
As I handed over my cash, I complimented the bookshop owner on his Darwin section, explaining how I am 'a bit of a Darwin groupie'.
"Ah!" You should see these, then!" he said, drawing me over to the locked glass cabinet containing the Darwin rarities.
Get ye behind me, Satan! I somehow managed to resist. Apart from the cuddly Charles Darwin I spotted on the way out, that is. The one which was entirely anatomically accurate—apart from the unopposable thumbs.
And, before you ask, no, I'm not about to tell you where the bookshop is. Do you take me for some sort of idiot?
As I explained to the bookshop owner, I'll be back!