This Thing of Darkness

14 Sep 2008

I don’t often get gifts from a client, especially one that I haven’t actually started working with yet, but when I met Dean Madden from Reading University that’s what he did. We met to discuss ‘DNA to Darwin’, an educational resource to coincide with Darwin’s centenary next year, and to get me in the mood, he gave me a copy of This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson.

It’s a novelisation of the lives of Robert Fitzroy (Captain of the HMS Beagle), and Charles Darwin, as they make their survey expedition to South America and the Galapagos Islands, as well as Fitzroy’s first journey and the years after their return to England. Based on real events, there’s very little embellishment, and where the author has changed events to improve the narrative, these are stated at the end of the book. The most interesting change is a meeting between Darwin and General Rosas, where the future dictator’s speech defending his actions is lifted verbatim from Tony Blair. While I was aware of Darwin’s contribution to the world, I knew little about Fitzroy, but it turns he has much to be lauded for – for example, he invented weather forecasting.

It’s gripping and tragic, with a cinematic feel throughout. A part of me wanted it to end just before their return to England, as from then on it’s a downward spiral for Fitzroy. Heart-breaking tragedy aside, I have to recommend it. I haven’t a enjoyed a book so much in years.

Recent Posts

It’s just fashion

26 Jun 2018

The Symbol Sourcebook

08 Jun 2018

Differences between Icon and Logo Design on This is HCD Podcast

10 Apr 2018

Twelve South PencilSnap

01 Apr 2018

The Infinite Canvas

09 Feb 2018

Blade Runner 2049

14 Oct 2017

Instagram Hickstagram

  • 14 Jul 2018

    Stopping for a breather - hot day for hills

  • 13 Jul 2018

  • 09 Jul 2018

    Recent garden addition: Stargazer Lillies

  • 07 Jul 2018

    Well… we missed quite a few key acts, but have made it here before Interpol starts at least!

  • 07 Jul 2018

    On our way to BST in Hyde Park. Or… not 😞

  • 06 Jul 2018

    My favourites from this years On Form Sculpture exhibition. The whale was my absolute favourite, but was already sold (which is fine as I don’t have a spare £11,000)

  • 01 Jul 2018

  • 01 Jul 2018

    Not quite in height order. Sort it out

  • 01 Jul 2018


  • 30 Jun 2018

    Agapanthus about to burst forth

Contact us

Call Jon on +44 (0)7917 391536, email or tweet @hicksdesign.

Alternatively, pop in for tea and cake at the studio…

Wenrisc House
Meadow Court
Witney, OX28 6ER
United Kingdom