Janet Browne. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1995 (printed as a paperback in 1996).
The definitive Darwin biography, this is delightful to read. The author is trained as a zoologist, and it shows. She presents a wonderfully well rounded portrait of Darwin, alive and three dimensional. The book is particularly good at letting us see the moments when Darwin begins to sense the scope of his discoveries. Not just another biography of Darwin, Brownes book takes us back to those times with impeccable scholarship and lively writing. While many histories of Victorian times seem weighty and dull, there is none of that here. In Brownes hands, Darwin and Emma and Fitzroy come to life. You feel you have met them in the flesh, and not only that, but that you know and understand them.