Cover image for Charles and Emma : the Darwins' leap of faith
Charles and Emma : the Darwins' leap of faith
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt and Co., 2009.
Physical Description:
268 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.
Reading Level:
1020 L Lexile
Charles Darwin and his wife, Emma, were deeply in love and very supportive of each other, but their opinions often clashed. Emma was extremely religious, and Charles questioned God's very existence.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 920 HEI 1 1
Book J 920 HEI 1 1

On Order



Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species , his revolutionary tract on evolution and the fundamental ideas involved, in 1859. Nearly 150 years later, the theory of evolution continues to create tension between the scientific and religious communities. Challenges about teaching the theory of evolution in schools occur annually all over the country. This same debate raged within Darwin himself, and played an important part in his marriage: his wife, Emma, was quite religious, and her faith gave Charles a lot to think about as he worked on a theory that continues to spark intense debates.

Deborah Heiligman's new biography of Charles Darwin is a thought-provoking account of the man behind evolutionary theory: how his personal life affected his work and vice versa. The end result is an engaging exploration of history, science, and religion for young readers.

Charles and Emma is a 2009 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature.

Author Notes

Deborah Heiligman has written more than twenty books for children. She graduated from Brown University, and started her writing career working for Scholastic News Explorer , the classroom magazine, but left when she wanted to be home with her children, and then she started writing her books. She is married to Jonathan Weiner, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for The Beak of the Finch .

Reviews 7

Publisher's Weekly Review

This rewarding biography of Charles Darwin investigates his marriage to his cousin Emma Wedgwood. Heiligman (the Holidays Around the World series) has good reason for this unusual approach: as deeply as they loved each other, Emma believed in God, and Charles believed in reason. Embracing the paradoxes in her subjects' personalities, the author unfolds a sympathetic and illuminating account, bolstered by quotations from their personal writings as well as significant research into the historical context. We meet Charles as he weighs the pros and cons of wedded life-but then seeks his father's advice (Darwin pEre urges him to conceal his religious doubts); Emma becomes a more fervent believer after the death of her favorite (and more religious) sister. Heiligman writes for motivated readers, and her style can be discursive (mention of a letter can introduce a few sentences on the British postal system). Her book allows readers not only to understand Darwin's ideas, but to appreciate how Emma's responses tempered them. Eight pages of photos, not seen by PW. Ages 12-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

Read by Rosalyn Landor. (Middle School, High School)Heiligman's biography of Charles Darwin concentrates on his relationship with his wife, Emma, and its effect on his scientific work and religious beliefs (or lack thereof). Darwin was not only a brilliant scientist but a devoted family man as well, and very much in love with Emma. Narrator Landor reads this work of nonfiction as if it were a novel, giving individual voices to all parties-an apt choice for Heiligman's personal approach. Landor's refined British accent and old-fashioned, plummy tones suit the material, while the warmth of her narration and the appeal of Heiligman's very human-centered story keep listeners close. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* When the book opens, Charles Darwin is trying to make a decision, and he is doing so in time-honored fashion: drawing a line down a piece of paper and putting the pros of marriage on one side and the cons on the other. As much as Darwin is interested in wedded life, he is afraid that family life will take him away from the revolutionary work he is doing on the evolution of species. However, the pluses triumph, and he finds the perfect mate in his first-cousin Emma, who becomes his comforter, editor, mother of his 10 children and sparring partner. Although highly congenial, Charles and Emma were on opposite sides when it came to the role of God in creation. Heiligman uses the Darwin family letters and papers to craft a full-bodied look at the personal influences that shaped Charles' life as he worked mightily to shape his theories. This intersection between religion and science is where the book shines, but it is also an excellent portrait of what life was like during the Victorian era, a time when illness and death were ever present, and, in a way, a real-time example of the survival of the fittest. Occasionally hard to follow, in part because of the many characters (the family tree helps), this is well sourced and mostly fascinating, and may attract a wider audience than those interested in science. Austen fans will find a romance to like here, too. To be illustrated with photographs.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2009 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

CHARLES DARWIN was nothing if not methodical. In the summer of 1838, two years after his round-the-world journey on the Beagle, the 29-year-old naturalist drew a line down the center of a sheet of paper. Topping one column, he wrote "Marry." On the other, "Not Marry." In the middle, he wrote "This is the Question." Among the benefits of marriage: companionship, children and "charms of music & female chit-chat." The drawbacks: loss of freedom, adventure and time to pursue his scientific work (all that chit-chat). His famous conclusion? "Marry - Marry - Marry Q.E.D." Quod erat demonstrandum: Thus it is proved. It wasn't quite so simple as that, though, as Deborah Heiligman reveals in "Charles and Emma," a delightful book about the question at the heart of the Darwins' marriage. Even before he wooed and wed the charming Emma Wedgwood, Darwin suspected that his growing religious doubts, fed by scientific discoveries that seemed to disprove the biblical creation story, might dash his chances for matrimonial harmony. "He knew that these doubts and his revolutionary thoughts about transmutation" - what we know as evolution - "and the creation of species would stand in his way of finding a wife," Heiligman writes. "Most women were believers and wanted their husbands to be believers, too." The issue was especially close to the heart of his intended fiancée. Emma's beloved sister Fanny had died young, and Emma believed that leading a good Christian life would allow her to reunite with Fanny in heaven. The idea of being parted from her husband - for he, as a non-believer, would be heading south after death - might be too much for her to bear. Darwin went to his father for advice. "Conceal your doubts!" Dad said. The son, as sons are wont to do, heard Dad's advice and promptly did the opposite. In a fireside chat, he revealed all. Emma, the sharp-minded daughter of progressive, free-thinking parents, didn't see it as a deal breaker. She wouldn't insist on word-for-word biblical belief, she told Charles, just an openness to the love of Jesus. That, he could live with. Thus began an extraordinary marriage, one bound together by love, respect and a shared lifelong struggle with the question of God. One of the pleasures of "Charles and Emma" comes in watching Darwin, giant of science, grapple with the mundane challenges of marriage and day-to-day life. One day he's discovering a key to the evolution of species in the beak of a finch, the next he's buying a house and removing a dead dog from the backyard. When Charles mentions that he and a friend might wish to dine every evening at London's Athenaeum Club, his fiancée lets him know that if he plans to hit the clubs with his "excellent steady old friends" every night, he's got another think coming. Theirs was a happy marriage built on compromise. He was tidy, she was not. Charles often walked the family to church but didn't go in, preferring to stroll around the village while Emma and the children prayed. When the Darwins suffered the heartbreaking death of two children (they had 10 in total), Emma never read their suffering as punishment for her husband's lack of faith. "Animals Charles Darwin Saw" includes a giant tortoise. In today's climate of division between religion and science, it's instructive to read about a marriage in which the two cultures improved each for exposure to the other. Heiligman's most revealing insight comes near the end of the book, as Darwin, having developed his ideas in private for 20-some years, spends a feverish 13 months writing them up in "The Origin of Species." Without Emma, he might well have written a combative, antireligious treatise - "The God Delusion" of his day. Instead, his experience with his wife's tolerant, reasonable brand of faith led him to temper his tone. "Had he spent more time with free-thinking, liberal intellectuals and less time sitting on the sofa with Emma," Heiligman writes, "perhaps then he would not have been quite so conciliatory and conservative in his writing of the book." Emma acted as her husband's first reader and toughest editor. As she read the manuscript, "there were parts that made her cringe; passages that she worried would move people farther away from God," Heiligman writes. "But she only criticized the argument to help Charles spell it out more clearly." Though the church didn't exactly embrace Darwin's radical ideas, the clarity of his arguments and his evenhanded tone disarmed critics who would dismiss his book as the ranting of a heretic. Thanks to Emma, the theory of evolution would have to be challenged on evidence and logic alone. A FINAL note: To mark this year's 150th anniversary of the publication of "The Origin of Species," a raft of Darwin titles are on their way to bookstores. My two old favorites, David Quamman's "Reluctant Mr. Darwin" and Jonathan Weiner's "Beak of the Finch" (written by Deborah Heiligman's husband), are a bit beyond my 7-year-old son's reading level, but "Animals Charles Darwin Saw" is a wonderful picture-book introduction to Darwin and his dangerous ideas. Sandra Markle tells Darwin's story in clear prose spiced with interesting vignettes (like the time young Charles stored a bombardier beetle in his mouth - bad idea), and Zina Saunders brings the scenes alive with colorful woodcut illustrations. My favorite line: "Sometimes the idea of evolution still makes people angry." Kids, you don't know the half of it. Bruce Barcott is the author of "The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw."

School Library Journal Review

Starred Review. Gr 8 Up-Charles Darwin was committed to his theory that it was "evolution that drove the creation of species." He spent 20 years secretly writing in his journals, constantly refining and polishing his shocking and revolutionary ideas that transformed the world. For Darwin, his belief in natural selection, which essentially eliminated God from the picture, was constantly "percolating and demanding his attention." He praised Emma, his wife, as open-minded, unflappable, and his anchor, yet she was his religious opposite, holding firm to a belief of God as creator of all things, arguing that it was "feeling and not reasoning that drove one to prayer." Deborah Heiligman's book (Holt, 2009) is not your typical heavy-handed biography of Darwin's controversial legacy. Rather, it is a fascinating journey that features excerpts from the couple's diaries, letters, and notebooks as well as the writings of friends, relatives, and critics. It is also the story of Darwin's love of science and his love for his wife. Heiligman brilliantly explores the relationships that influenced Darwin-from his father who encouraged free thinking to his wife's strict religious pleas. Narrator Rosalyn Landor's crisp British accent and polished reading complements the author's fabulous biography. A must-have to celebrate Darwin's 200th birthday.-Cheryl Preisendorfer, Twinsburg City Schools, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

This rich, insightful portrait of Charles and Emma Darwin's marriage explores a dimension of the naturalist's life that has heretofore been largely ignored. Emma was devoutly religious while Charles's agnosticism increased as he delved deeper into his studies of natural history, but they did not let this difference come between them. While unable to agree with Charles's theory that essentially eliminated God from the process of creation, Emma remained open-minded and supportive, even reading drafts of The Origin of Species and suggesting improvements. Using excerpts from correspondence, diaries and journals, Heiligman portrays a relationship grounded in mutual respect. The narrative conveys a vivid sense of what life was like in Victorian England, particularly the high infant mortality rate that marred the Darwins' happiness and the challenges Charles faced in deciding to publish his controversial theory. While this book does not serve as an introduction to Darwin's life and ideas, readers wanting to know more will discover two brilliant thinkers whose marital dialectic will provide rich fodder for discussions of science and faith. (introduction, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Review

To marry or not to marry? This biography starts with Charles Darwin making a list of domestic pros and cons. Despite his reservations, he decided that marriage and family life were worth the risk, and so he married Emma Wedgwood, not knowing that her religious nature would call his science into question. Why It Is for Us: The Darwins' fascinating marriage of faith and reason is a very grown-up love story. Emma prays for her husband, deeply in love and yet convinced that he is putting his eternal soul at risk. For his part, Darwin finds that the bonds of matrimony he once feared would confine him instead inform his work in ways he could not have expected. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 1 Better Than a Dog Why, the shape of his head is quite altered. --DR. ROBERT DARWIN, IN 1836, AFTER CHARLES'S FIVE-YEAR VOYAGE In the summer of 1838, in his rented rooms on Great Marlborough Street, London, Charles Darwin drew a line down the middle of a piece of scrap paper. He had been back in England for almost two years, after a monumental voyage around the world. He was in his late twenties. It was time to decide. Across the top of the left-hand side, he wrote Marry. On the right he wrote Not Marry. And in the middle: This is the Question. It was easy for Charles to think of things to write under Not Marry. "Freedom to go where one liked," he began. Charles loved to travel. His voyage had lasted almost five years; he had been the naturalist on the HMS Beagle , a British surveying ship. He was horribly seasick while on board, but he spent as much time as he could on land, exploring on horseback and onfoot, and collecting thousands of specimens, from corals in the Cocos-Keeling Islands of the Indian Ocean to beetles in Australia to a fox in Chiloé Island, Chile. He now lived in London with his servant from the Beagle, Syms Covington, "Fiddler and Boy to the Poop Cabin." Charles had taught Syms to shoot and skin birds and to help him list and catalogue the specimens. Now Charles and Syms were surrounded by neatly stacked wooden crates, casks, and barrels filled with many of their treasures from Patagonia, Brazil, Chile, and Tierra del Fuego: fossil bones, skins, shells, fish preserved in spirits of wine, mammalia in spirits of wine, insects, reptiles and birds in spirits of wine, plants, rocks, carcasses of dead animals, and beetles. What if Charles wanted to go on another adventure and collect more specimens? How could he do that if he got married? Next, under Not Marry he wrote: "--choice of Society & little of it.--Conversation of clever men at clubs--" On Great Marlborough Street, Charles lived just a few doors away from his older brother, Erasmus, and he was spending much of his time with Eras and his circle of intellectual friends, which included the historian and writer Thomas Carlyle and his wife, Jane; the writer Harriet Martineau; and the Darwins' first cousin, Hensleigh Wedgwood. They discussed the huge changes in England brought on by industrialization. When Charles had left for his voyage, there were a few trains; now the railroad zigzagged all over the country, reaching places only horse-drawn carriages had gone before. The growing number of mills and factories changed the landscape as well; towns and cities were expanding, as was the division between rich and poor. The rich benefited from the new industry and from Great Britain's burgeoning empire. The poor suffered in the squalor that Charles Dickens was capturing so well in his serialized novels. Erasmus and his circle debated the Poor Laws, which were shunting the destitute into workhouses; they discussed the need for social reform. There were divisions in religion in nineteenth-century England, too. Religious zealots and religious dissenters were making noise while members of the Church of England and Unitarians like the Darwins also quietly questioned their faith. Freethinking liberals, Eras and his circle were respected members of the British upper classes, and Charles found it easy--and stimulating--to be with them. Because they were open-minded and liberal, Charles knew he could broach with them some of the radical scientific thoughts he was beginning to have. This was what mattered to him. Not going to dinner parties, teas, and other torturous social occasions where people inundated him with seemingly endless questions about his travels. Not that all of his social occasions were torturous. Charles was spending time with--and being courted by--three sisters in one family. The Horner girls were clever young women, well-read and educated, with promising intellectual futures. They even shared his interest in natural history, geology, and zoology. Their oldest sister, Mary, was already married to a new friend of his, Charles Lyell, a prominent geologist. Mr. Horner approved of Charles Darwin as a son-inlaw and hoped for a match. "I have not seen anyone for a long time with a greater store of accurate knowledge," he wrote to Mary. Erasmus teased Charles, calling Mrs. Horner "Motherin-law." So the marriage question was not hypothetical. And Charles Darwin was a good catch. He was a tall man, about six feet, thickset--big but not fat. He was athletic and fit from his adventures on the voyage. He dressed conservatively in the styles of the day: tailcoat, fine linen shirt with standing collar, and tall hat. He had gray eyes, a ruddy complexion, and a pleasant face, though he did not like his nose, which he felt was too big and bulbous. He was from an upstanding, wealthy family; he had much to talk about, and he had a promising future. His reputation had, as they say, preceded him. While he was traveling, Charles had sent back thousands of his specimens to his old Cambridge professor, John Stevens Henslow. Some of these specimens had begun to make him famous in the natural history world before he had even returned to England, including a rare fossil head of a giant ground sloth he had found in Argentina "in horizontal position in the cemented gravel; the upper jaw & molars exposed," as Charles had written in his first geological specimen notebook. The remarkable fossil sloth head had been presented at a meeting of the British Association of the Advancement of Science in Cambridge. But if he were to marry one of the Horner girls, or anyone else, he could see the obligations ahead, whereas if he remained single, he would be freer to pursue his science. He added to the Not Marry side of his list, "Not forced to visit relatives, & to bend in every trifle." He liked his brother, his sisters, his cousins the Wedgwoods. But what if he didn't like his wife's relatives? There was so much compromising you had to do if you were married. He could see it in his friends, many of whom had gotten married while he was away. Walking down the street one day not long after he had gotten back, he had seen his cousin Hensleigh carrying a child in one hand and a round box in the other. Hensleigh had married a cousin from the other side of his family in 1832, the year Charles left on the voyage. (First cousins often married at this time, especially in the upper classes.) Now Hensleigh had two children, and Charles shuddered at the thought of all the juggling a young father had to do. Did he want the responsibility? His reaction to this scene was so strong that it made the rounds of the family gossip: Emma Wedgwood, Hensleigh's sister, wrote to her sister-in-law with amusement how struck Charles was by Hensleigh's juggling. Not surprising, therefore, that Charles continued his Not Marry list with "--to have the expense & anxiety of children-- perhaps quarrelling." It wasn't just the time and distraction that worried him; although he was frugal, he doubted he would ever make enough money by collecting beetles and writing about coral. Lack of money always led to fights, that he knew. And could he stand the anxiety and worry of having children? Cholera, a deadly disease, had just reached England for the first time, and there were epidemics of typhus, typhoid fever, and scarlet fever. Children got sick, children died. So there would be worry about health along with worry about money. And it all would take so much time. That was the crux of the issue. He wrote and underlined twice "Loss of time." Charles needed as many hours a day as he could have to do his work. First of all, he had to solicit more experienced naturalists to help him analyze his specimens. Charles had so many kinds of specimens; he was not an expert on every bird, bone, and bug. He had already given out his rare Megatherium bones and his finches and mockingbirds from the Galapagos Islands. But he had more of his collections to distribute to experts, and he had to urge them, coax them, to tell him what they thought. What did he have? Had he found new species? What significance did his finds have, if any? As a single man with no family responsibilities, he could meet with these experts, go to scientific meetings, and visit museums and libraries whenever he wanted to. He didn't have to worry about a wife or her relatives dictating how his time should be spent. Charles felt strongly that he had no time to waste. Near the end of his voyage, he had heard from one of his sisters that Henslow and another old professor of his, Adam Sedgwick, were both very interested in the bones he had sent back. Sedgwick declared his collection "above all praise" and said that Charles would have "a great name among the Naturalists of Europe." Charles found this terribly gratifying and knew that with those endorsements he would continue to work hard on natural history. He wrote, "A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life." Before the voyage, Charles had been a typical natural history collector. In nineteenth-century England, everyone from country parsons to teenage girls collected butterflies, flowers, even stuffed birds and fossil bones. Looking at God's wondrous handiwork was a worthwhile avocation, and in some cases, vocation. Collectors tried to amass and describe as many of God's species as possible and hoped to find new crabs, moths, finches, or ferns. And if you were lucky, the new species you discovered would be named after you--Charles had a few named after him, including a South American ostrichlike bird, the Rhea darwinii , and a frog that lived in Chile and Argentina, Rhinoderma darwinii. Although he was pleased to have such an extensive collection, Charles was thinking about something bigger when he looked at his fossils. He was thinking about the origins of life. While on the voyage, reading Charles Lyell's rinciples of Geology and looking at desert islands, rugged cliffs, and volcanoes, Charles knew that Lyell was right: Earth was not formed in 4004 B.C. as Archbishop James Ussher had calculated in 1658. This date had been incorporated into an authorized Bible in 1701, and many people still believed it was a fact. But Charles was certain that the earth was formed much longer ago than that and was still being formed. Once he realized that the earth was changing, that the story of creation in the Bible was not literally true, Charles's mind was opened to the possibility of a different kind of creation in the animal and plant kingdoms. Looking at the specimens he had collected, Charles realized that species were forming and changing all the time, too. The idea of evolution, or transmutation, as it was then called, had been debated and refuted for years. But toward the end of his voyage, and now back in England, as he looked at bird specimens from the Galapagos Islands, Charles had the beginnings of a new theory to explain transmutation. He felt sure that if he could work it through, he would change the way the world thought about creation. He desperately wanted and needed to work it through. He had started the great project already, and he was consumed by it, giving it hours and hours every day. He was making copious notes in small leather notebooks filled with high-quality paper made from linen rags. Each notebook was labeled with a letter. He had opened the first one, a brown leather notebook with a metal clasp, in July 1837. On the cream-colored pages, he had begun to jot down his secret and revolutionary thoughts about the origin of new species. Examining pecimens he had collected, Charles was finding evidence that went against the prevailing concept of creation, which was that God had created all the species of birds, bees, and beetles at once and that there were no new ones since the first creation. Some people argued that fossils existed because God, displeased with his creations, had engineered a few worldwide catastrophes that had destroyed all the existent species and then had started creation all over again. But Charles had a very different idea, and he was accumulating pages and pages of observations, thoughts, ideas, and questions, filling up more and more notebooks, each with a different focus and marked with a different letter. He had many questions, from the everyday: "Owls. transport mice alive?" to the pointed: "How easily does Wolf & Dog cross?" How could he answer all of them if he succumbed to the mundane responsibilities of married life? He would have to spend his time hurrying down the street with a box in one arm and a baby in the other. There was so much to write on the Not Marry side of the page! He continued, "Cannot read in the Evenings--fatness & idleness--Anxiety & responsibility--less money for books &c if many children forced to gain one's bread." And yet, even on this side of the paper, he conceded "(But then it is very bad for ones health to work too much)." Back to the negatives. "Perhaps my wife won't like London; then the sentence is banishment & degradation into indolent,idle fool." Charles wasn't completely sure he liked London himself. The city was noisy and dirty, the weather murky, the air often polluted with a yellow smog from the new factories and from all the fireplaces burning dirty coal. He often longed for the countryside near Wales where he grew up. But he thought that living in the country might make him lazy, which would be terrible for his work. He absolutely did not want to be either idle or a fool. On the other hand, you could stay in London and still be idle. Erasmus was; he was no fool, but he had neither a wife nor a career. Charles looked at him and knew that was not what he wanted. So. That's where he ended his list of reasons not to marry Under Marry, Charles began: "Children--(if it please God)." He did enjoy other people's children. He played with them, and he observed them. He wrote in one of his secret notebooks "Children have an uncommon pleasure in hiding themselves & skulking about in shrubbery. When other people are about: this is analogous to young pigs hiding themselves." Looking at his friends' and cousins' children he thought not only of pigs but also of "savages," as the English called native people. During his voyage around the world, his encounters with natives had been startling and enlightening. On the Beagle there were three people from Tierra del Fuego who had lived for a while in England. They had been "civilized" in that they now wore British clothes and had adopted British manners. But when Charles and his shipmates first arrived in Tierra del Fuego, a group of natives perched on an overhang above the sea "sprang up, and waving their tattered cloaks sent forth a loud and sonorous shout." They wore little clothing. Some of them, even full-grown women, were completely naked. Their hair was tangled, but many of the people had dramatically painted faces, with a bright red bar from ear to ear, white-chalked eyelids, streaks of black charcoal. As different as they looked, they were able to communicate with the English travelers and could imitate anything. One native man had learned new dance steps, which impressed Charles. Spending time with these people had made Charles think of ways that pigs, children, primitive peoples, Englishmen all were related. This was a clue to his secret theory. But now, thinking about children, he was thinking also as a man and a potential father. It would be nice to have his own little piggies skulking about in the bushes. Charles definitely liked to be surrounded by people. He had good friends and was close to his sisters and his brother. Having a wife would be really nice. He continued on the Marry side, "constant companion (& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one--" He hoped his wife would live a long time, unlike his mother, who had died painfully, probably of an infection, when Charles was only eight. His father, an experienced and extremely successful doctor, had not been able to save her. Her death devastated Dr. Darwin, though Charles himself hardly remembered her. He hoped he would find someone who would be interested in him, definitely, but he also wanted someone he could love. He wrote "object to be beloved & played with." And then: "better than a dog anyhow." Sometimes Charles thought dogs were easier than people. He had loved dogs since he was a boy, and they loved him. When Charles had just gotten back from the voyage, he found it difficult at first to resume where he had left off with his sisters and his father. He had changed, and they didn't seem to be able to adjust to that. But when he went out into the yard and whistled, his dog (who was surly to everyone else but adored him) rushed out to walk with him, as if their last walk had been the day before, not five years earlier. Why couldn't people be more like dogs? he wondered--and wished. But a dog can't do everything, and so a wife would be better than a dog anyhow. He listed more positives: "Home, & someone to take care of house--Charms of music & female chit-chat.--These things good for one's health.--but--" There it was again--"terrible loss of time." Too much music, too much chitchat. Not enough time to do his work. Again he looked at his brother, Erasmus. Even though he was a bachelor, Eras spent much of his time with women--mostly other men's wives--taking them on errands in his carriage, going to dinners. But then he returned them to their husbands. Harriet Martineau wasn't married, and there was gossip about Harriet and Erasmus. But Eras seemed determined to remain single. His father and sisters wanted to fix him up with their cousin Emma Wedgwood, mostly to stop the gossip, but so far nothing had happened there. Erasmus was in control of his own life, as Charles could be if he stayed a bachelor, too. Yet-- "My God, it is intolerable to think of spending ones wholelife, like a neuter bee, working, working, & nothing after all.-- No, no won't do.--Imagine living all one's day solitarily in smoky dirty London House." Alone in his smoky, dirty London house, Charles thought about love and romance and what went with it. He read poems by the romantics William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge--"Where true Love burns Desire is Love's pure flame. . . ." He filled his notebooks with the scientific aspects of love, with questions about breeding and heredity. So far most of his questions were about animals, but in his notebook marked "B," Charles wrote in brown ink on pages with faint green rules, "In Man it has been said, there is instinct for opposites to like each other." Perhaps he and his wife would be opposites, but close. "Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music perhaps--" And heading off to bed later. He ended his list under Marry , "Compare this version with the dingy reality of Grt. Marlbro' St."--his life on Great Marlborough Street, where he went to bed alone. The lists on the left and right side of the page looked about the same length. But Charles felt that he had found more reasons to marry than not. He wrote on the left side, squeezed at the bottom, the answer to his question: "Marry-- Marry--Marry Q.E.D." QED: quod erat demonstrandum , Latin for "which was to be demonstrated or proved." He had proven to himself that he should get married. On paper at least. But he had one other fear, a fear that he could not bring himself to write down. The issue was too big. He would have to talk to his father. Excerpted from Charles and Emaa by Deborah Heiligman. Copyright (c) 2009 by Deborah Heiligman. Published in 2009 by Henry Holt and Company. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher. Excerpted from Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.