Don't get me wrong; trumpeting the contributions of great scientists to our
Don't get me wrong (part 2); these artefacts can be really good for bringing their owners' humanity home to us in a visceral way (as I recently experienced in the NHM'S Darwin exhibition which is chock full of Darwin's personal belongings), and they also serve a very important purpose in historical scholarship. Let's just not get silly about it, 'kay?
In the case of Darwin, this is especially important because when people treat his name or image as somehow sacred for its own sake, it's not only inappropriate (see Thomas Henry Huxley's views on the matter here), but it underscores one of the creationists' favourite lines, 'Darwinism is a religion'. Sure, the Onion recently used Darwinism to parody the absurdity of worshipping religious relics but I am pretty sure I also detected a hint of self-parody there.
Putting our science heroes on too high a pedestal also reinforces the harmful idea that 'we' (mere mortals) can't hope to attain such intellectual greatness as someone like Darwin. It would be terrible to put the Darwins of tomorrow off their science by making them think they have absolutely no hope of ever measuring up.
As such, accounts of Darwin's youth, his faults and foibles, his personal relationships, his illnesses and especially the routines of daily life are most welcome. And so, as a prime example of the latter, I give you Mrs. Charles Darwin's Recipe Book: Revived and Illustrated with a preface by acclaimed Darwin biographer Janet Browne ~
...which seems to me like it might make a pretty good stocking stuffer for those culinary-minded Darwin
*how embarrassing (thanks, Richard)