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Friday, 8 April 2011

Darwin's Unitarian Connections

I have had the privilege to be one of the first to read Cliff Reed's new book "Till The Peoples All Are One - Darwin's Unitarian Connections" published by Lindsey Press and to be launched at the Unitarian Annual Meetings in Swansea.

The cover immediately attracts attention with the iconic photograph taken a year before Darwin died by the studio of Elliott and Fry. It speaks to me of the wisdom of old age.

Unitarians have often made claims about individuals with whom they associated somehow believing this will bring us modern day credibility. Ironically, Cliff points out that Unitarians have been reluctant to claim Darwin as one of their own. He certainly makes the case that infact they should not be too quick to deny him. Their influence of him at various points in his life is clear. The section on Francis Ellingwood Abbot and the Free Religious Association is revealing of both the evolution of Darwin's thinking and also that of Unitarianism.

There is a much more rounded picture of Emma Wedgwood Darwin, his wife, and of the nuances of Unitarian belief and practice in the 19th Century than has often been presented.

The book is available from Essex Hall and online retailers.

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