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Mr Darwin's Shooter

McDonald, Roger

ISBN 10: 1862300542 / ISBN 13: 9781862300545
Verlag: Anchor, 1998
Gebraucht Softcover
Verkäufer Eastleach Books (Newbury, BER, Vereinigtes Königreich)

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Paperback, F. 413pp, a fine copy. A novel based upon the life of Syms Covington who was Darwin's servant aboard The Beagle. 450 grams. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 32302

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Bibliografische Details

Titel: Mr Darwin's Shooter

Verlag: Anchor

Erscheinungsdatum: 1998

Einband: Soft cover

Auflage: 1st UK edition.

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In this richly detailed novel based on the life of Syms Covington, Charles Darwin's hard-working shipboard assistant and later his house-servant, Roger McDonald shines a light on a man forgotten by history, capturing the breathtaking excitement of the historic voyage of the Beagle and brilliantly illuminating the scientific, religious, and social controversies that exploded around Darwin's watershed theories.As "Darwin's shooter, " Covington collected and preserved invaluable specimens; as the scientist's clerk in London, was he the first man to grasp the full import of their research -- the seeds of Darwin's theory of natural selection? Twenty years later, Covington awaits his copy of The Origin of Species with mixed emotions. Embittered by Darwin's failure to acknowledge him, he is also profoundly troubled by his own role in the discoveries that subverted sacred doctrines and shook the Victorian worldview to its very foundation.


In Mr. Darwin's Shooter, Roger McDonald explores the evolution not just of flora and fauna but of friendship and belief. At 12 young Syms Covington escapes his father's slaughterhouse and England for life at sea. Already six feet tall and bursting with innocence, ambition, and faith, he dreams of glory. But three years later, in 1831, Covington is still only an odd-job boy and ship's fiddler on a barque named after a "beagle-hound." This boat, though, will prove his career salvation, for its cosseted passenger is Charles Darwin. The young naturalist soon marks the sailor out as an adequate aide, a "willing accomplice" to what the grown Covington will later consider "a great murder." By murder he means less the massive plundering of birds and beasts ("stopping the hearts of small life") than the undermining of Biblical truth. If species do in fact evolve, Covington wonders, what proof can there be of God's handiwork?

Syms Covington really was Darwin's shooter from 1832 to 1839, and even after he emigrated to Australia, the men continued their tense relationship--until, that is, a copy of The Origin of Species arrived. Though the boy was never the naturalist's "beau ideal" of a collector, still, Roger McDonald writes,

It was a marriage of convenience they had, and Darwin was like the fiancée who gives her consent to the match for reasons of suitability but through lack of love rues the intimacy--yet all the time lauding the practicality.
If this talented author occasionally lays on the archaisms too heavily, in Mr. Darwin's Shooter he has nonetheless fashioned a sensuous, provocative adventure. --Molly Winterbotham

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