Darwin’s eldest daughter Annie died when she was only ten years old. In the writing case are keepsakes of her life that cast precious light on Darwin’s work and on his love for his wife and children. Taking Annie’s story as his starting point Randal Keynes brings together science and humanity in a ground-breaking book that makes a major contribution to our understanding of Charles Darwin.
Randal Keynes, Darwin’s great-great-grandson and the current guardian of Annie’s box, conjures up a world in which great thinkers – including Carlyle, Babbage and George Eliot – were struggling with ideas that were to shake mankind to its core. At the forefront was Darwin himself, whose thinking about evolution and human nature was profoundly influenced by his life with his family, vividly pictured in this intimate portrait of the man and his private world.
Reviews of Annie’s Box
‘Extraordinarily moving.’ Mark Bostridge, Independent on Sunday
‘There is more to this story – expertly conceived by Keynes – than the outlining of the vicissitudes of Victorian family life. The crucial point is that life and science were “all of a piece” for Darwin. Annie’s life may have been tragically short, but its impact – to say the least – has been long-lasting and profound.’ Robin McKie, Observer
‘Keynes shows elegantly and convincingly how Darwin’s mature theory grew out of his intensely personal pain. His failure to find spiritual comfort after Annie’s death strengthened and confirmed his trust in natural laws – evolutionary laws, later called the survival of the fittest.’ Lisa Jardine, Sunday Times
‘This is an engrossing book, a biography with a difference.’ Rosemary Ashton, Sunday Telegraph
‘It is a rare biography that reveals the key emotional moment in its subject’s personal and intellectual life so clearly as Randal Keynes does for Charles Darwin in Annie’s Box. Moving and illuminating.’ Clive Cookson, Financial Times