Poetic and scientific perspectives on Darwin with Ruth Padel and Jonathan Howard
A unique event to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin will take place at Somerset House where Darwin worked as Secretary of the Geological Society, 1838-1839, while reaching his breakthrough insight into Natural Selection. The event is jointly arranged by The Royal Society, The Royal Society of Literature and Somerset House Trust.
Ruth Padel, writer in residence at Somerset House and Darwin's great-great-granddaughter, will read from her new poetry collection Darwin: A Life in Poems, and discuss Darwin as man, writer and scientist, with evolutionary geneticist Jonathan Howard. The evening will be chaired by Randal Keynes, also a great-great-grandchild of Charles Darwin, author of Annie's Box: Charles Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution.
Ruth Padel, the first writer in residence at Somerset House and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Zoological Society of London, is a prize-winning poet. Her highly acclaimed nature book Tigers in Red Weather was short-listed for the Kiriyama Prize in the US.
Jonathan Howard FRS, Professor of Cell Genetics for the Institute for Genetics at the University of Cologne, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1995, is the author of Darwin: A Very Short Introduction published by Oxford University Press.
Randal Keynes's book Annie's Box is the basis for the film Creation, directed by Jon Amiel, starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, to be released later this year.
'Ruth Padel's remarkable memoir of her great-great-grandfather is a triumph, something quite original and exquisite. It comes in a sequence of precise and moving poems that cover his science, travels, marriage and family life. Once I started reading I could not put it down until I had reached the end, and then I turned back for the pleasure of reading again.' Claire Tomalin
'We all have our own Darwin, but poetry gets under the skin of the subject in a way conventional biography cannot match.' Richard Fortey
Darwin: A Life in Poems by Ruth Padel is published on 12 February 2009 by Chatto & Windus. Her Radio 4 series Darwin My Ancestor is broadcast from 27 January for four weeks on Tuesdays, 9.30 a.m.
The event is sponsored by the Kohn Foundation.