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Fitzroy: The Remarkable Story of Darwin's…
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Fitzroy: The Remarkable Story of Darwin's Captain and the Invention of the…

by John Gribbin, Mary Gribbin (Author)

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This is a book that many readers have long awaited. References to Captain Fitzroy abound in many other biographies and in many history and seafaring books, and he has long fascinated me. There were some glimpses of Fitzroy in The Voyage of the Beagle, in the letters of Charles Darwin and in a recent book about Weather Forecasting (http://www.librarything.com/work/121909/book/77910001) by Charles Connolly where is was noted that after more than a hundred years the Captains work in creating Weather Maps was formally, if belatedly, recognized by renaming a forecast area in the Bay of Biscay as Fitzroy. But this life was needed to round-out the man, and John Gribbin has done exactly that, drawing a fuller picture of Darwin’s Captain and his astonishing accomplishments as discover, seafarer and Governor of New Zealand. Fitzroy was a compassionate man, despite his ‘black moods’ and when asked if he expected trouble from the New Zealanders on his appointment he is said to have replied; ”Only the whites.” In this he was right as his attempt to ensure fair treatment of the Maori infuriated many settlers and led to his recall.
He rounded out an impressive career by virtually inventing the (still regrettably unreliable) science of Weather Forecasting and Weather Maps particularly for Naval safety. Descended from an illustrious family, including one of the English Kings he terminated his own life, as did his father, by locking himself in his bathroom and slitting his throat with his razor.
Gribbin has created a masterly account of this man of genius.
  John_Vaughan | Oct 17, 2011 |
The sadness of Robert FitzRoy's life lies in the subtitle of this superb and moving biography: "the remarkable story of Darwin's captain and the invention of the weather forecast". A brilliant mariner, FitzRoy was an MP, governor of New Zealand, and the pioneer of weather forecasting. Yet history has come to see him simply as "Darwin's captain", master of the Beagle and her most famous passenger. This is natural, given the importance of Darwin's time on the ship for his theory of natural selection. But John and Mary Gribbin point out that, had it not been for FitzRoy, we would all refer to "Wallacian theory", after Alfred Russel Wallace's identical ideas.
 

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Gribbin, MaryAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300103611, Hardcover)

The name of Robert FitzRoy, captain of the Beagle, is forever linked with that of his most famous passenger, Charles Darwin. This exceptionally interesting biography brings FitzRoy out of Darwin’s shadow for the first time, revealing a man who experienced high adventure, suffered tragic disappointments, and—as the inventor of weather forecasting—saved the lives of countless fellow mariners.
John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin draw a detailed portrait of FitzRoy, recounting the wide range of his accomplishments and exploring the motivations that drove him. As a very young and successful commander in the British navy, FitzRoy’s life was in the mold of a Patrick O’Brian novel. Later disappointments, including an unpopular tenure as governor of New Zealand and a sense of dismay over his own contributions to Darwin’s ideas of evolution, troubled FitzRoy. Even his groundbreaking accomplishments in meteorological science failed to satisfy his high personal expectations, and in 1865 FitzRoy committed suicide at the age of sixty. This biography focuses well-deserved attention on FitzRoy’s status as a scientist and seaman, affirming that his was a life which, despite its sorrowful end, encompassed many more successes than failures.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:14 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The name of Robert FitzRoy, captain of the Beagle, is forever linked with that of his most famous passenger, Charles Darwin. This exceptionally interesting biography brings FitzRoy out of Darwin's shadow for the first time, revealing a man who experienced high adventure, suffered tragic disappointments, and, as the inventor of weather forecasting, saved the lives of countless fellow mariners. John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin draw a detailed portrait of FitzRoy, recounting the wide range of his accomplishments and exploring the motivations that drove him. As a very young and successful commander in the British navy, FitzRoy led a life in the mold of a Patrick O'Brien novel. Later disappointments, including an unpopular tenure as governor of New Zealand and a sense of dismay over his own contributions to Darwin's ideas of evolution, troubled FitzRoy. Even his groundbreaking accomplishments in meteorological science failed to satisfy his high personal expectations, and in 1865 FitzRoy committed suicide at the age of sixty. This biography focuses well-deserved attention on FitzRoy's status as a scientist and seaman, affirming that his was a life that, despite its sorrowful end, encompassed far more successes than failures. The adventurous life and many accomplishments of the sea captain who invited Charles Darwin aboard.… (more)

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