Darwin’s Armada

Evolution Festival, Media releases

By Iain McCalman: How four voyagers to Australasia won the battle for evolution and changed the world.

Written and issued by Penguin Group (Australia)

Celebrating Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication On the Origins of Species by Means of Natural Selection.

“What a fine book this is! Deeply researched, skilfully constructed and written with engaging flair. It provides us with a memorable and often moving account of the greatest scientific achievements and momentous controversies of the C19th.” – Henry Reynolds

Darwin’s Armada tells the stories of Charles Darwin, Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley and Alfred Wallace, four young amateur naturalists from Britain who voyaged to the Southern Hemisphere in search of adventure and scientific fame.

Encounters with the landscapes, habitats and peoples of South America, Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, South-East Asia and Antarctica moulded the young mariners’ minds and reshaped their scientific ideas.

For the next forty years, this little group became a fighting vanguard in the war of ideas and the accompanying social revolution that Darwin’s theory of evolution caused. Collectively they challenged the conservative clerical establishment to become some of the most distinguished and influential scientists in Britain and the Western world.

This book shows, for the first time, the Darwinian revolution of ideas as a genuinely collective enterprise, one that had its birth in a series of gripping human travel-adventures in the South Seas. Many of the most urgent ecological and social issues of our present times are prefigured in this compelling story of intellectual discovery.

Iain McCalman was born in Nyasaland, Africa in 1947 and now lives in Sydney, where he is Research Professor at the University of Sydney. He has held numerous visiting research fellowships in Britain and the United States. His previous books include The Seven Ordeals of Count Cagliostro, which has been translated into twelve languages.


For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Tina Gumnior, Penguin Group (Australia) on 03 9811 2549 or tina.gumnior@au.penguingroup.com

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