On the origin of pigeons

Found myself watching Creation the other night – a dramatisation of Charles Darwin’s life during the years leading up to the publication of The Origin of Species,  almost undoubtedly the single most important scientific publication of the 19th Century. By pure chance, the following day I caught up with Mr Darwin again, in my progress thru’ Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, where the relevant chapter begins:



I guess that’s a Victorian version of the mythical ‘man who turned down The Beatles’. Or the talent spotter who famously summarised Fred Astaire: “Can’t act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little.”

In the event, Darwin insisted they go ahead, and The Origin became an instant hit, selling out its entire 1250 first print run on the day of publication.  (Though it was supplanted in popularity by his subsequent The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms (1881).)