The name of Robert FitzRoy, captain of theBeagle,
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 w
ide 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.