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Synopsis

'The best of these Darwins is that they are cut out of rock - three taps is enough to convince one how immense is their solidarity.' So wrote Virginia Woolf affectionately of Gwen Raverat, the granddaughter of Charles Darwin.

In this first full biography, Frances Spalding looks beyond the artist Gwen Raverat's childhood memoir; Period Piece, and creates a fascinating and moving portrait of Charles Darwin's granddaughter. She explores her Darwin inheritance; her conflicts when she moves beyond her home environment to enter the Slade School of Art; her encounter with post-Impressionism; and her friendships with Stanley Spencer, Rupert Brooke and members of the Bloomsbury set. At each stage, Gwen's artistic creativity is interwoven with her relationships and circumstances. She helps revive the medium of wood-engraving and with her husband, Jacques Raverat, celebrates the South of France in the art they produce while living in Venice.

Drawing on a huge cache of unpublished papers, Spalding brings us a life lived with bravery, humour; realism and integrity, surrounded by a remarkable cast of relatives, friends and associates.

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