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Darwin's Ghosts

Soon after publication of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin received a letter that deeply unsettled him. He had expected outrage and accusations of heresy, but this letter was different: it accused him of taking credit for a theory that wasn't his. Yet when he tried to trace his intellectual forebears, he found that history had already forgotten them... Rediscovering Aristotle on the shores of Lesbos and Leonardo da Vinci fossil hunting in the Tuscan hills, this is a masterful retelling of the collective daring of a few like-minded men, whose early theories flew in the face of prevailing political and religious orthodoxies and laid the foundations for Darwin's revolutionary idea.
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An electrifying account of the extraordinary untold history behind Darwin's theory of evolution

About the Author

Rebecca Stott is a novelist and historian. She is Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and an Affiliated Scholar at the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University. She is the author of eleven books including three non-fiction history of science books: Darwin and the Barnacle, Theatres of Glass: The Woman who Brought the Sea to the City and Oyster, and two historical novels, and most recently the bestselling Ghostwalk, shortlisted for the Jelf First Novel Award and the Society of Authors First Book Award, and The Coral Thief, both of which have been published in many different countries. She is regularly asked to contribute to radio and TV documentaries and arts programmes. Rebecca Stott lives in Cambridge.


Extraordinarily wide-ranging and engaging ... Stott's gifts as a novelist mean that each of her subjects emerges as living in ordinary weather and among objects, family and political difficulties ... She draws on an array of scholarship and assembles it into an intricate sequence of stories and investigations that are her own ... Gripping * Gillian Beer, The Sunday Telegraph * Thrilling ... impressively researched ... A gripping and ambitious history of science which gives a vivid sense of just how many forebears Darwin had; even if none of them can match the man himself * Sunday Times * Rebecca Stott's beautifully written and compelling book is the story of some of the men - and they were all men - who came before, and how the evolution of their ideas mirrors the evolution of species ... These mavericks and heretics put their lives on the line. Finally, they are getting the credit they deserve * Independent on Sunday * Clever, compassionate and compellingly written, Stott has interwoven history and science to enchanting effect. The evolution of the theory of evolution is a brilliant idea for a book, and she has realised it wonderfully * Tom Holland * From Aristotle onwards, evolutionists have - thank God - always been a quarrelsome lot; and not much has changed. Rebecca Stott shows how dispute, prejudice and rage have accompanied their science from the very beginning. Darwin's Ghosts is a gripping history of the history of life and of those who have studied it, with plenty of lessons for today - perhaps for today's biologists most of all * Steve Jones * A masterful retelling of the collective daring of a few like-minded men who had the courage to publish their speculations at a time when to do so, for political as well as religious reasons, was to risk everything. It is the story of an idea that would change the modern world * Observer * Impressive scholarship and compelling narrative; a fine book * Brenda Maddox * Charles Darwin provided the mechanism for the evolution of the exquisite adaptations found in plants and animals but the awareness that species can change had been growing long before him. With wonderful clarity Rebecca Stott traces how ideas about biological evolution themselves evolved in the minds of great biologists from Aristotle onwards. Darwin would have loved this brilliant book - and so do I * Sir Patrick Bateson, President of the Zoological Society of London * Exciting, gripping and addictively readable * Independent on Sunday on Darwin and the Barnacle * This is a brilliant performance with a grip like that of the Ancient Mariner * New Scientist * Mesmerizing ... Ghostwalk has an all-too-rare scholarly authority and imaginative sparkle ... Rebecca Stott has accomplished something distinctively fresh * New York Times Book Review on Ghostwalk *

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