Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Julie’s New & Hot – “The diaries of Darwin's wife debut online”

(Above) First page of Emma Darwin’s 1824 diary.

According to Nature’s March 14, 2007 “News In Brief,” just last month the diaries of Charles Darwin’s wife Emma were released online. The diary includes details about daily life in the Darwin family, such as about grocery costs, visitors, and illnesses.

This new source of information is interesting on a few different levels. First, it would definitely be an interesting exercise to compare Charles’ and Emily’s daily accounts. What would Charles include and Emma leave out and vice versa? What more can we learn about who Darwin was from these firsthand accounts? Second, it is interesting to note how Darwin’s fame is contagious. I imagine that now that these records are available to the public, historians and others interested in Darwin will analyze these diaries for more clues on to the personal life and thoughts of the famous scientist. Could Emma have ever imagined that her daily diaries would one day be under such scrutiny? Third, just as Darwin intended for his audience to be his children and grandchildren, what audience did Emma write for? If Emma had intended for her diaries to be personal accounts of events not to be read by others, she may have been frank about the daily ongoings, thoughts, and feelings.

With yet another source of information about Darwin’s life, another dimension has been added to the complicated yet intriguing challenge of pulling together the facts to reconstruct his life and thoughts.

Click here to directly acces Emma’s diaries.

Click here to read my Amazon book review on The Autobiography of Charles Darwin.

--Julie Kim

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