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Randal Keynes OBE


Author of Annie’s Box: Charles Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution, great-great grandson of Charles Darwin, and Patron of Humanists UK

“I am so glad to be joining this company in which I feel Darwin would have felt himself to be among his kind.”

In a chest of drawers bequeathed by his grandmother, Randal Keynes discovered the writing case of Charles Darwin’s beloved eldest daughter Annie, who died at the age of ten. He also found the notes Darwin kept throughout Annie’s illness, the eulogy he delivered at her funeral, and provocative new insights into Darwin ’s views on nature, evolution, and the human condition. The book that resulted presents a humane, warm portrait of Darwin, drawing on the memoirs of his children, family papers, letters and a host of scholarship. The evocative picture described is unique to the Darwin family, but it’s also very much a picture of its time. Infant mortality was commonplace in the mid-19th century, yet Keynes draws out the intense, prolonged mourning felt by Darwin and wife Emma for Annie, despite having many subsequent children. Keynes’ poignant yet unsentimental account suggests how Darwin’s personal circumstance affected his theories and beliefs. Buy Annie’s Box here .

On accepting Humanists UK’s invitation to become a “Patron” Randal Keynes wrote:

“I realise that what I found out and explained in my book on Darwin about his views on religion and the natural origins of human morality was a manifesto for Darwin as a humanist. I am so glad to be joining this company in which I feel Darwin would have felt himself to be among his kind.”

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