One thing that I haven’t seen a lot of in the various books and papers on the life of Darwin was how he dealt with the news and issues of the day. The lead up to the publishing of the Origin were troubling and eventful days. At the start of 1855 the war in Crimea had been going for a year and the appalling conditions and casualties were common knowledge (as this was the first major war covered by reporters). A cholera outbreak in London allowed Dr John Snow (Disease is Coming!) to found epidemiology by tracing the outbreak to one water pump. A horrendous fire in Newcastle that started in warehouses full of flammable materials killed over 50 people and injured hundreds more. In Devon, ‘devil’ footprints were found in the snow that lead for over 100 miles! It’s hard to see how these kinds of events wouldn’t have had some impact on Darwin, who seemed a sensitive sort of chap.