Everyone knows about Charles Darwin, and many know that from his grandfather Erasmus down to my generation of the great-great grandchildren and beyond, the family has been full of scientists. Quite a few know that the family tree is closely connected with an even bigger dynasty which straddles science, the arts and politics: the Wedgwoods. But fewer people know that the poets Frances Cornford and Ruth Padel are Darwins, as were the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, and the artists Gwen Raverat and her cousin Robin, who was Principal of the Royal College of Art for three decades.
So when my first novel, The Mathematics of Love, was published, I was surprised how many people assumed that the title was meant to be a contradiction, a paradox: they thought I must mean that mathematics and love are opposites. And in the wider sense, to the ordinary person in the street, science and the arts are thought to be opposites: science is about facts and the arts about feeling; science is objective, the arts subjective; science analyses the world under our feet and above our heads, the arts synthesise it into something new. But of course it's not nearly as simple as that: Gwen Raverat talks about her physicist father as an artist and "the most romantic man alive", and Ruth Padel can get involved in the science of ecology in saving the tiger.
In this illustrated talk I draw on my own experience as a practising novelist and teacher, and that of my family, to explore how creativity works across all disciplines, and specifically in among all the branches of my family tree, from Erasmus Darwin writing poetry to explain evolution before his grandson was born, to my singer-musicologist sister Carola Darwin commissioning songs to celebrate the bicentenary of that grandson's birth.
If you are interested in knowing more about my work in this area, do contact me, and I'll be delighted to reply.