Diaries Shed Light on Darwinian Life; Charles Darwin's Origin of Species May Have Changed the Course of Scientific Thinking, but His Wife Was Also a Prolific Author, Charting Their Six Decades of Married Life Together. Rhona Ganguly Reports
Byline: Rhona Ganguly
Emma Darwin's first diary is dated 1824, when the then Emma Wedgwood was 16 years old.
For the next 72 years, she chronicled her life, recording the minutiae of everyday chores, notes of appointments, important family events, and a seemingly endless succession of illnesses and remedies, mainly relating to her children and husband.
There were the visits to and from relatives and friends, concert attendances, minor expenses, charitable activities and other daily duties.
The complete works of Charles Darwin, one of Shropshire's favourite sons who showed how natural selection could explain evolution, were published online last year.
Now joining the Darwin online library are his wife's diaries, 60 pocket books which previously were known only to a handful of academics familiar with the Darwin archive at Cambridge University Library.
Although they are not discursive journals, Mrs Darwin provides an insight into the daily life of the Vic-torian scientist and his family.
Born in Staffordshire - her father was Josiah Wedgwood II and her grandfather Josiah Wedgwood, who had made his fortune in pottery - Emma Wedgwood was Charles Darwin's first cousin. At the age of 30, she married the naturalist in 1839 and was a crucial factor in his scientific accomplishments, dealing with his long-term illness and nursing their children through their sickness.
The couple had ten children, but three died - Anne, Mary, and Charles Waring.
Her writing habit endured throughout her lifetime; she kept a diary until the last year of her life, 1896, providing a near century-long observation of Victorian life. …