Essay on Darwin’s London

Essay on Darwin's London from General London Forum forum on Nature Network London.

Nature Network London's editor Matt Brown draws attention to "a beautifully written piece [from] describing the London of Charles Darwin. It nicely complements the Darwin map we posted on Nature Network a few months back." From the article:

One afternoon I went out walking with Joe Cain, a senior lecturer in the history of biology at University College London. We headed to 2 Bedford Place, a few minutes from the college, where the geologist Leonard Horner used to live with his five highly educated daughters. Darwin was a frequent visitor. But his father steered him instead toward Emma Wedgwood, a first cousin, good-natured and with a handsome dowry. The two were soon looking for their own first home in the same Bloomsbury neighborhood, though Emma prudently advised against living too close to “the Horneritas.”

They moved to a rented brick row house on Upper Gower Street, which they nicknamed “Macaw Cottage” for the gaudy decor. The house was destroyed during World War II, Cain said, and pointed out similar houses across the street that had survived. But what really interested him was the location. From the back garden, Darwin would have looked out on the college’s main building, where his onetime mentor Robert Grant had become a professor of zoology. Grant had taught him basic field biology. But Darwin managed to avoid him for the three years he lived on Gower Street; apparently he didn’t want his career tainted by Grant’s radical beliefs—including an early brand of evolutionary thinking.

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