Since I have a little while before my copy of the new Alan Furst book arrives, and I felt the need for something uplifting, I’m re-reading Adrian Desmond’s biography of T. H. Huxley. Desmond a brilliant writer, one of the best biographers I’ve ever read.
And he really likes Huxley. His Darwin biography showed a lot of respect for Darwin’s work, but I get the sense that he respects Huxley more as a person. Darwin’s upper-class background, and his ability to retreat to Down and have others represent evolution in public, contrast sharply with Huxley’s impoverished origins and the enormous energy he had to spend remaking himself.
That’s the other reason I’m reading Huxley again: you could hardly ask for a better model for a writer and thinker.