Charles Darwin's book about his grandfather, The Life of Erasmus Darwin, is curiously fascinating. Before publication in 1879, it was shortened by 16%, with several of the cuts directed at its most provocative parts. The cutter, with Charles's permission, was his daughter Henrietta - an example of the strong hidden hand of meek-seeming Victorian women. This first unabridged edition, edited by Desmond King-Hele, includes all that Charles originally intended, the cuts being restored and printed in italics. Erasmus Darwin was one of the leading intellectuals of the eighteenth century. He was a respected physician, a well-known poet, a keen mechanical inventor, and a founding member of the influential Lunar Society. He also possessed an amazing insight into the many branches of physical and biological science. Most notably, he adopted what we now call biological evolution as his theory of life, 65 years prior to Charles Darwin's Origin of Species.

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