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Science writer tackles Darwin’s ‘Secret Life’

January 20, 2010 By Chris Barncard

Charles Darwin let more than two decades pass between his return to England aboard HMS Beagle and the publication of “Origin of the Species.”

Why the wait? That’s complicated, according to author David Quammen, who will visit the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus Monday, Jan. 25, to deliver the lecture “Charles Darwin Versus Himself: The Secret Life of a Reluctant Revolutionary.”

In his 2007 biography “The Reluctant Mr. Darwin,” Quammen focused on the post-voyage, pre-“Origin” years — when Darwin withdrew from society to put his theories through further testing, and struggled with their likely impact and debilitating illness.

Quammen is also author of the award-winning “The Song of the Dodo” and several novels and spent 15 years writing the “Natural Acts” column for Outside magazine. His work has appeared in Harper’s, National Geographic, The Atlantic and The New York Times Book Review. Quammen is the Wallace Stegner Chair in Western American Studies at Montana State University.

Presented by the Evolution Coordinating Committee as a prelude to Darwin Day (Feb. 12), Quammen’s lecture is free and open to the public. It begins at 5 p.m. in the Ebling Symposium Center in the Microbial Sciences Building, 1550 Linden Drive.

Tags: biology, events