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Charles Darwin: Voyaging

(Charles Darwin #1)

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  384 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Few lives of great men offer so much interest - and so many mysteries - as the life of Charles Darwin, the greatest figure of nineteenth-century science, whose ideas are still inspiring discoveries and controversies more than 100 years after his death. Yet, only with the publication of Voyaging, the first volume of this acclaimed biography, do we have a truly vivid and com ...more
Paperback, 656 pages
Published August 7th 2003 by Pimlico (first published 1995)
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4.40  · 
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 ·  384 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Mar 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of two Volumes which has quickly become the definitive Biography of Charles Darwin (and rightly so).

Ms Browne's research is exhaustive, but never boring. Her analysis is never stretches it's neck out further than her facts can substantiate.
It's true measure is in her telling of the 20 "lost" years between Darwin's burgeoning belief in Transmutation and his eventual theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Under Ms. Browne's pen, the period from 1839 to 1859 is anything but "lo
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the close of this 550 page biography of Darwin's life up to age 49, I was disappointed that I would have too wait to read the second volume. You might think that 200 pages on Darwin's early life is too much, but Browne reveals his early interest in nature and offers convincing evidence that Darwin was not the home-bound hypochondriac I at least imagined before reading this biography. We tend to focus too much on natural selection and evolution, and not enough on his studies of geology and tax ...more
Jul 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 19th century enthusiasts/biographiles/creationists who are willing to have their minds blown
May disappoint those who anticipate the publication of The Origin of Species (you have to wait for Volume Two). However, the details of his five years as companion to the captain--and unofficial naturalist--on the Beagle are rich; culled mostly from his letters home and his journal entries, the bio is a nice complement to any who've read his Voyage of the Beagle or who never plan to.
A valuable account of Darwin's life, situating his intellectual development socially and economically. Browne does gets a bit tedious at times, but the book is nevertheless valuable for the engaging portrait it offers.
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
great biography on darwin!
Kevin Orrman-Rossiter
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Evolution is probably the scientific theory that more people have an opinion on, than any other. Whether a vocal supporter or critic I would doubt that many have read Darwin's On the Origin of Species to appreciate why this book made, and continues to make, such an impact. The meticulous original research, the tremendous secondary research, and the precision philosophizing that Darwin carried out in creating his landmark book are beautifully examined in Janet Browne's biography of Charles Darwin ...more
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, science
I'm really in no position to say, but many of the other reviewers boldly state that this biography is the definitive Darwin biography. Definitive or not, it's a very good book. After finishing volume 1, I can say that I think it's the only one I'll have any need to read.

Voyaging covers the first half or so of Darwin's life, including childhood, school days, trip around the world on the Beagle, and finding success in the scientific community upon his return. It also covers his awkward courtship
Rachel Weiler
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful introduction to Darwin's early life - from his Austen-esque childhood, to his circumnavigation of the globe on the Beagle, to his 20 years researching and developing his theory of evolution by natural selection before publishing the Origin of Species. I appreciated learning the detailed social, political, and scientific context of his life. I was constantly relaying Darwin facts to my partner as I read!

I would say this is a book for someone with passing knowledge of (or at least inte
Cary Fitzgerald
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great biography -- probably one of the few biographies I plan on going back and reading again. Great story of a man, an age, and a theory. At the end of it, I found myself wishing I could sit down and spend some time with this fascinating, likable man. This is the first half of Janet Browne's two-part biography, and should be read together with "The Power of Place."
Colleen Earle
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, biography, school
This took me longer to finish than I had anticipated.
This is part one of a two part biography and includes Darwin's family's history, voyage on the Beagle, Marriage to Emma, and the beginnings of his work on Origins.
It is written in an accessible way, but is still quite dense.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb. More interesting than v. 2 which. One of best biographies I have ever read.
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, science
Well-written biography of the early period (well, more than half) of Darwin's life, from his birth up until shortly before his publication of Origin of Species. This is a beautifully researched biography, which explores the development of his personality and attitudes, highlighting the events that shaped his attitude to the world and enabled him to uncover the processes that lead to species transformation.

I really enjoyed it; it was tightly focussed on Darwin's life (more so than, say, the biog
Mar 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had enjoyed the one-volume life by Desmond and Moore, but this is now the definitive biography. I think that after immersing herself in Darwin through editing his voluminous correspondence and doing even more research for this biography, Browne has a somewhat jaundiced view of the great man. Like a loving but clear-eyed wife, she notes when he is being lazy, or unknowingly enjoying the privileges of a man of his class and station. I am again struck by how physically adventurous he was in his e ...more
Feisty Harriet
I absolutely loved this! I love Browne's style of bringing Darwin, his family, his adventure aboard The Beagle, and his studious life in London/Shropshire afterward to life. I was fascinated by Darwin's thought process, on how long it took him to figure out what he wanted to say on evolution and changes in species; years, it took him years! This book made me want to start keeping notebooks of my thoughts, I am blown away at how much information Browne mined from such notebooks and letters, littl ...more
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was massive. Despite the author’s annoying habit of continually letting the reader know why her book was superior to other Darwin biographies, the book did really tell Darwin’s story. The book provided a lot of context for Darwin’s life, describing people he associated with in depth as well as giving a lot of detail about the time-period within which he lived. However, I got a little bogged down in all the details of the book and it really dragged by the end. In retrospect, I think I w ...more
James King
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-books
This long book is only Volume 1 of a two-volume biography. It ends when he has just decided to write up his work on species. I only had an impressionistic idea of Darwin as a person, and this book made him interesting in surprising ways. As a young man he was much more of an English country gentlemen (shooting and riding) than I expected, and his time on the Beagle was more adventurous and vigorous (and on land). I have tended to steer way from biography as often Too Much Information, but this l ...more
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
yes volume one...and it's huge. I am in awe of E. Janet Browne who has obviously spent years immersed in the life of Charles Darwin. This first volume covers his illustrious forebears, his early life, the travels of the Beagle, his success, and his pulling together the material that will become The Origin of the Species.

In descriptive language Browne describes all the many people in Darwin's life and how science at the time was in turmoil as fossils were being discovered, theories were expounded
Peggy Page
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A biographical tour de force! I almost feel I can now count Darwin among my friends, I feel so well acquainted with him as a fellow human. The chapters on the Beagle voyage were especially absorbing, and sent me right to Darwin's origin for more. I am beginning Volume 2 immediately, and feel quite sorry for those who, having read the first volume at its publication, had to wait so long to return to Down House. A fascinating, imperfect and wonderfully admirable human, this Darwin fellow!
Ralph Miller
Nov 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. This is my second time through it. When I can't sleep at night, more frequently with age, I join Darwin in his researches while sailing (5 years!) on the Beagle, or back home at Down pondering his barnacles and beetles. I am now embarking on vol.2, which I could not get through my library but had to buy used on Amazon. I am eagerly awaiting its arrival.
Nic Mcphee
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well written and engaging. The beginning was a bit slow, but reading about famous people as children often isn't terribly gripping. The coverage of his voyage was excellent, however, and I found the discussion of the development of his evolutionary ideas quite the page turner.

Perhaps the best recommendation I can make is that reading this volume really made me want to read the second!
Jaime Claudio
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Browne is the living scholar on Darwin and this is an Opus of his formative and travelling years. Fascinating reading for any serious student of the life and work of Charles Darwin. Brilliantly written!
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Almost unbelievable life. How Obe person gad so many forward thinking thoughts and ideas. Again, the life hugs wife leads with this obsessive man is also very interesting. Every chapter was eye opening to the world of science and exploration.
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Biographies by good writers provide insight not only into the book's subject but also their times and the ideas of those times. It's been quite awhile since I read this book but I found it impossible to put down. I'm adding the second book of this biography to my "to read" list.
John Kaufmann
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Excellent biography. Very readable. It covers Darwin's life up to the publication of The Origin of Species. Perhaps a bit on the long side, but then again, it's not summary - it's Volume 1 of a two-volume biography. It's meant to be comprehensive.
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well written first volume about Darwin's life before he published the Origin of Species. I love seeing how ideas form over the course of a lifetime. Looking forward to the second volume.
Feb 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bios
Excellent history of how Darwin developed his theory. Takes some slogging to get through all the science but I now understand how he contributed to some of our basic scientific techniques.
Jan 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Darwin's voyage is central to this book. Reading his Voyage of the Beagle is more entertaining. If you want to get to know Darwin, read that or his autobiography first.
I am reading this book slowly to go along with Origin of Species, it is definitely from an Evolutionary perpective.
Apr 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful biography. I finished this volume with the sense that I was very well acquainted with the man and his time. I couldn't wair for the second volume to appear.
Troy Mcconaghy
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well-researched book, yet delightful to read, with many specific, often humorous details.
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History as distortion - where is Alfred Russel Wallace 4 5 Mar 12, 2014 09:15AM  

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Elizabeth Janet Browne (née Bell, born 30 March 1950) is a British historian of science, known especially for her work on the history of 19th century biology. She taught at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College, London, before returning to Harvard. She is currently Aramont Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University

Other books in the series

Charles Darwin (2 books)
  • Charles Darwin: The Power of Place