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An Intimate History of Evolution

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Join Alison Bashford FBA , author of An Intimate History of Evolution, in conversation with Professor Sujit Sivasundaram.

In his early twenties, poor, wracked with depression, stranded in the Coral Sea on the seemingly endless survey mission of HMS Rattlesnake, hopelessly in love with the young Englishwoman Henrietta Heathorn, Thomas Henry Huxley was a nobody. And yet together he and Henrietta would return to London and go on to found one of the great intellectual and scientific dynasties of their age.

The Huxley family through four generations profoundly shaped how we see ourselves. In innumerable fields observing both nature and culture, they worked as scientists, novelists, mystics, film-makers, poets and educators.

Alison Bashford’s new book, An Intimate History of Evolution, interweaves the Huxleys’ momentous public achievements with their private triumphs and tragedies.

Their speciality was evolution in all its forms – at the grandest level of species, deep time, the Earth, and at the most personal and intimate. They shaped great organizations – the Natural History Museum, Imperial College, the London Zoo, UNESCO , the World Wildlife Fund – and they shaped fundamentally how we see ourselves, as individuals and as a species, one among many.

Join us to hear from the author about this extraordinary family and learn how much we owe – for better or worse – to the unceasing curiosity, self-absorption and enthusiasms of this small, strange group of men and women.

The event will be followed by a drinks reception and a chance to purchase the book.

Book in-person and online tickets through our Eventbrite page.

About the speaker:

Alison Bashford FBA is Honorary Fellow, Jesus College, Cambridge, and currently Laureate Professor of History at University of New South Wales. Previously she was Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History, at the University of Cambridge.

She is author of books on Malthus and world population, on the history of public health and quarantine, and of eugenics. In 2021 she was awarded the Dan David Laureate Prize for her work in the history of medicine.

This talk is part of the Intellectual Forum series.

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