I've read literally dozens of books about Charles Darwin. In most of them, his children, if they're mentioned at all, hover in the wings somewhere. Tim Berra's book puts them centre-stage. Each of Charles and Emma Darwin & His Children get their own chapter.
Many people will know the story of Darwin's favourite child, Annie, who died when she was 10 years old. To some extent, Annie's story has eclipsed those of her siblings. In reading this book, I was delighted to make better acquaintance with his other children—especially Henrietta (who effectively became her father's editor), Francis (who became his father's lab assistant and secretary), and George (who became a world-class geophysicist).
The fact that the Darwins had no less than ten children means that some of Tim Berra's potted biographies are necessarily brief, but they contain enough information and interesting snippets for most casual readers—and enough to whet the appetites of us serious Darwin groupies.
Definitely one for your Darwin library.
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Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publishers.
Great book! I reviewed it here: http://thedispersalofdarwin.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/book-review-darwin-and-his-children-his-other-legacy/
Sorry to have to say that there are a LOT of errors and omissions in this "little book", which Tim M. Berra and his OUP editor are well aware of.
Omissions are understandable in a collection of brief biographies. Errors are not. I spotted one (very minor) one myself, and wondered about a couple of other statements that I had no way of checking, but, on the whole, I found the book to be a useful introduction to a fascinating family.
Try pages 197 and 199 with references to FRANCIS and FRANCES CORNFORD being parents of "the poet Francis Cornford" when it should read JOHN!:-(
p.62 refers to one of the governesses of the Darwin children as ‘Madame Grunt’. As someone who owns the domain gruts.com, I feel compelled to point out that her surname was Grut, and that she was later dismissed for being too ‘gruttish’.
see the UK map on the inside back cover, no Isle of Man and no Channel Islands are shown in the Irish sea and the English channel respectively! 🙁