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  • Author:agent Roger McDonald
Issue Details: First known date: 2009... 2009 Syms Covington : A Character from the Margins
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'In 1834, aboard HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin wrote to his sister: 'My servant [Syms Covington] is an odd sort of person; I do not very much like him; but he is, perhaps from his very oddity, very well adapted to all my purposes.' When I first read this letter (quoted in the joint biography, Darwin, by Adrian Desmond and James Moore) I realised that if I were ever to write a novel about Darwin, then here was the novel in embryo.'

A convention of the novel is the character from the margins, someone present at a key event, plausible as an 'eyewitness' but not necessarily a main actor dramatically. Covington surpassed the convention by playing the role in real life and supplying the dramatic necessity. Later I read in Janet Brown's Voyaging her opinion that Covington was the unconscious shadow behind Darwin's every triumph. This was more my Covington than the person I'd sighted in the scant historical record. After his employment with Darwin ended, Covington came to live on the margins - in Australia'

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Reframing Darwin : Evolution and Art in Australia Jeanette Hoorn (editor), Carlton : Miegunyah Press , 2009 Z1612972 2009 anthology essay 'In celebration of the the bicentenary year of Charles Darwin's birth and complementing the Darwin's Cornucopia, Evolution, Science and Art exhibit in Australia, this record highlights the impact of Darwinian thought on Australian art, science, and culture. Comprehensive and unique, this collection of insightful essays reflects upon topics ranging from the voyage of the HMS Beagle to bioethics and cloning. This volume shows how pervasive the ideas of Charles Darwin are in the Australian arts and sciences and depicts the great influence his thinking has had in the international community and in cultures the world over.' (From Libraries Australia) Carlton : Miegunyah Press , 2009 pg. 54-61
Last amended 13 Nov 2009 10:07:01
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