In darkness, chemicals wash over a copper plate. Strange
silvery patterns evolve in the half-light.
2 EXT. TERRA DEL FUEGO. DAY 2
Our POV rotates downwards onto an irregular shape.
This shape is grey-green and crammed with detail which
emerges as we draw close – like a continent seen from outer
A fruit fly lands on it and we now recognise the shape as a
patch of lichen.
A number of other fruit flies are grazing there.
Wider. The lichen is on a rock. A black lizard climbs over
the horizon – stalking flies.
A slow advance. A sudden rush. A fly is snapped up and
mashed between toothless gums.
The lizard is fixing its beady gaze on the next potential
A shadow falls, the lizard tries to flee. A seabird grabs
the lizard in its claws. Death is sudden and bloody.
The bird settles to eat.
Whizz…Thunk. A sharpened stick flies out of nowhere and
impales the bird through its wing.
The wounded bird falls between boulders, flapping
The rest of the flock take to their air, calling and
A crowd of local savages come racing over the larger
horizon of the rocks armed with primitive bows and arrows,
spears, rocks and throwing-sticks…
A child grabs the injured bird and kills it.
An adult biffs the child on the head and steals the bird.
The rest of the savages leap among the jagged rocks smiting
each other, shouting and snarling among the whirling flock
AND WE CUT TO
3 EXT. COASTLINE. DAY 3
A POV shot through a telescope: The whirling birds the
strange half-animal forms of the savages.
The whole scene is jerky, out of focus and inaudible at
this great distance like a very old silent movie.
CHARLES DARWIN (V.O.)
In Terra del Fuego. The “land of
fire” – A blighted and loveless
country on the earths furthest
rim – there lives a community of
the dirtiest, the rudest, the
least civilised beings you can
The telescope focusses. The image becomes a little clearer
4 EXT. CLIFF TOP. DAY 4
The flock of boobies fly out to sea.
The savages follow as far as the top of the cliffs, where
they stop in sudden amazement, staring at a distant sailing
They were all completely naked,
the men as well as the women,
with hair down to their bottoms.
They spoke in grunts and they
never washed their hands and
faces! In many respects they
resembled wild animals, except
that animals are kinder to their
A savage child makes a comment and gets biffed on the head
Strange, foreign cries of the sailors are faintly audible
over the water, as the anchor is dropped with a rattle and
a splash. A small boat is lowered.
One day, Captain Fitzroy went
ashore to meet them.
The slow rhythm of the oars.
Sailors and savages clutch their weapons, watching each
other in breathless anticipation.
5 INT. DAGUERROTYPE STUDIO. THE PAST. DAY. 5
A door opens and a figure in black, hurries past, clutching
a number of prepared photographic plates in their light
Not long now. I shall be with you
ANNIE DARWIN, wearing in a checkered dress, aged about 9
years old, sits looking straight at camera.
She has short hair and a pretty oval face
On her lap there is a posy of artificial flowers, in the
background an improbable vista of jagged mountain.
Ready now. Very still please.
Will this hurt, papa?
No. It is only a beam of light.
How can light make a picture.
Well they prepare a copper plate
with chemicals on it. The
chemicals are sort of energized
by the light reflecting off your
Then silver sticks onto the plate
according to where the light is
Betty was worried it would hurt.
….What a little duck she is.
So as I was saying, Captain
Fitzroy went ashore to interview
6 EXT. SHORE. TIERRA DEL FUEGO. DAY 6
Waves lap on the black pebbly beach, where a young naval
captain FITZROY with mutton chop sideboards disembarks
lightly from his jolly-boat.
After some discussion persuaded
three of the savages` children to
come home with him.
The “discussion” is more in the nature of heated bargaining
Fitzroy finally produces enough cloth and axe-heads to
secure the deal.
The unwilling children pushed away by their parents and
grabbed by sailors who bundle them, biting crying and
kicking, into the waiting boat.
Their names were Jemmy Buttons,
York Minster and Fuegia Basket.
7 INT. BELOW DECKS. DAY. 7
Below decks: a slapstick struggle with soap and scrubbing
brushes – much biting kicking and howling – as sailors
scrub the children clean.
Ow! Shite! Hold still ye maggot!
The captain had them washed and
got their hair cut, then dressed
them in proper clothes, and
taught them proper table manners.
8 INT. CAPTAIN’S CABIN. DAY 8
The children, cleaned and dressed, seem happy enough in
their new situation.
They sit at the captain’s table clumsily sawing with a
knife and chasing Brussel sprouts around a plate with their
A sprout shoots off the table
9 EXT. SHIP’S DECK. DAY 9
Splosh! A weighted canvas body bag is tipped overboard.
The rough unshaven seamen crew all remove their hats, some
of them cry openly.
York Minster died of the smallpox
but the other two learned English
and went to meet the queen.
10 EXT. BUCKINGHAM PALACE. DAY 10
A fanfare as the gates swing open as a coach-and-four
11 INT. BUCKINGHAM PALACE. DAY 11
Jemmy Buttons, looking very smart in velvet suit with
silver buttons gives proper bow and shakes the Royal hand.
Fuegia Basket curtsies.
Queen Victoria remains out of shot but her attendants hand
out presents off a purple silk cushion: A Bible for Fuegia
and a telescope for Jemmy
12 EXT. SHORE OF TIERRA DEL FUEGO. DAY. 12
Hairy savages reassemble on the cliff tops
Two years later. Captain Fitzroy
and I took them back, in the
company of a young Parson, hoping
they would bring the other
savages to god and to teach the
others by example.
The hairy savages squint from the cliffs to sea….
Another boat, the Beagle, has anchored in their bay.
Captain Fitzroy is being rowed ashore with Darwin, plus a
very young parson and the two young Fuegans, who are happy
and agitated to see their homeland again.
And what do you think happened?
13 INT. DAGUERROTYPE STUDIO. THE PAST. DAY. 13
Annie suspects there is a joke coming and cant help her
mouth from twitching the corners.
Correct! A complete and total
14 EXT. ROCKY CREVICES. TERRA DEL FUEGO. DAY 14
At the first sight of their countrymen, Jemmy and Fuegia
rip off their clothes, drop the bible and the telescope,
and run to join them, yelling like nut-cases.
The benighted young parson scrambles after them, collecting
their discarded garments from among the rain-swept rocks.
The telescope is smashed. The Bible lies abandoned – the
wind catching its soggy pages and whirling them off in the
15 INT. DAGUERROTYPE STUDIO. DAY. 15
Darwin still laughing, dabs his eyes
The photographer disappears behind black curtains.
Very still now. No more talking
Annie composes her face in an expression of angelic
A glass dome above her head glows snapdragon blue
Close on Darwin watching his daughter, his eyes still damp
with tears of laughter.
Electricity hums. The strange blue light glows brighter,
The image of his daughter imprints on Darwin’s memory. Just
16 INT. DOWN HOUSE. DINING ROOM. THE PRESENT. EVENING. 16
Servants are laying a table for dinner
Gas lamps and the coal fire struggle to illuminate the
Mrs Davies the Welsh cook, bangs the dinner gong and shouts
across the darkening garden outside.
MR DAVIES (O.S.)
Children! Franky! Horace! Dinner!
Darwins attractive wife Emma adjusts the lamps and the boys
run in, Franky aged 10 Lenny aged 8 Horace aged 6.
Yes. What is it
Horace says he’s six feet tall.
Have you all washed your hands.
He said I have to be or I can’t
join the army.
First things first. An officer
must always tuck his shirt in.
Their elder sisters Betty and Etty take their places at
The boys made a camp with a camp-
Where’s the campfire.
In the summer house but Brodie
put it out.
Parslow enters with the turreen
Thank-you Parslow. Where is Mr
He was killing pigeons Ma’am
Will everybody sit down please.
As they are pulling in their chairs, Darwin enters, drying
his hands on his trousers.
He’s aged ten years since we last saw him and has lost his
former air of gaiety.
He sits, with a distracted nod to the family.
Soup du jour, sir
The children smile at Parslow’s air of earnest formality
but the atmosphere even among the younger kids is sombre
Thank you Parslow
He butters some bread and starts eating. Emma clears her
The children bow their heads. The bread stick in darwins
mouth. Emma says grace.
Lord God who watches over all
that we do. Bless this family and
the food we eat. In Jesus name.
Everyone repeats the “Amen” except Darwin.
I hear Mr Hooker is coming
The children prick up their ears at this. They like Hooker
He won’t stay long.
Did he say what it was about?
I think this is not the time to
Maybe the time to discuss it was
before you invited him.
He sent a telegram. I’m sorry if
it inconveniences you.
Emma purses her lips and turns her attention back to the
Eat your soup now.
Darwin takes a couple of spoonfuls, pauses, as a wave of
nausea sweeps over him, then pushes away the dish.
Tell Mr Davies it was delicious,
but my stomach is not quite right
He gets up and leaves. As soon as he has gone, the children
natural talkativeness reasserts itself.
Can we take Mr Hooker to the
Chalk pits. Why can’t he stay.
Can we pick blackberries?
I think he is just here to work
17 EXT. DOWN HOUSE. DARWIN’S STUDY. THE PRESENT. NIGHT. 17
A branch taps gently against the window pain, like an
insistent guest demanding to be admitted.
The coal fire burns low in the grate – wind in the chimney
rattling the damper
Firelight flickers on a collection of finches in a glass
case, on a bird skeleton, on a fossil, and on numerous
specimen bottles containing the fleshy parts of barnacles
preserved in spirit-of-wine.
Darwin sits immobile in his chair, regarding a locked,
black lacquered steel trunk, on the floor under his work
A voice speaks behind him.
Aren’t you going to open it?
He turns and sees her sitting on the day bed – the same
little bright eyed girl from the daguerrotype studio.
She’s the same age as she was then and wearing the same
checkered dress – though Darwin himself has aged ten years.
Maybe best if I just burn the
No papa – You can’t. I’m in it.
Don’t be absurd. Of course you’re
The story of me when I was small.
You showed me the pages.
“The natural History of babies”
Of course I remember.
He continues to stare at the shiny black box, his hand
fluttering lightly – a nervous tic.
Music seeps in – a soothing Chopin Nocturne and….
18 INT. DOWN HOUSE DRAWING ROOM. THE PAST. NIGHT 18
Darwin aged 40 – bright-eyed and inquisitive leans over to
examine something, offering it his finger tip while making
little tut tut tut noises.
In the cot is a one-month old baby.
Annie. Annie. Annie.
The piano music continuing over, as her fist closes round
the end of his finger, then tries to pull it towards her
He pulls it away from her and she frowns.
He offers it again and the tug of war becomes a game.
Baby Annie laughs.
Darwin writes something in his notebook. Then tucks his
pencil behind his ear and tries out various facial
expressions – scowling, smiling – to gauge the baby’s
Emma turns on the piano-stool.
What are you doing?
She comes over and, leaning against him, reads from his
“Six weeks: Gurgles. Holds tight
to my finger. Tries to suck.
Smiles at my smile”
The baby lets out a long yodel of pleasure
I should add that she is musical.
I hope you do not plan to treat
all our children as little
animacules to be included in your
Do you mean there will be more.
I assumed that’s what you wanted.
Of course, if the idea doesn’t
Appeal? Dearest cousin. I am
making plans for an army!
He takes Emma in his arms. She gives a little squeak –
caught off balance then laughing as he waltzes her around
the room, singing.
19 EXT. WOODS AND MEADOW. THE PAST. DAY 19
An army of children – the Darwin family – run across the
screen from left to right. The little kids first,
scampering through the hay meadow off into the trees.
Household servants follow, carrying blankets, hampers and
The red haired Scottish nursemaid Brodie, shouts ahead to
the little ones.
Careful! Not too far ahead now.
The children ignore her so she pick up her skirts and races
The Adults follow in their wake – Charles and Emma Darwin
plus two younger men aged about 30 – Joe Hooker and the Rev
20 EXT. RIVER BANK. THE PAST. DAY 20
They have set up their picnic on a river bank.
Emma is reading.
Joseph Hooker is teaching the boys to fish. He has
spectacles and long wispy side-whiskers: a battered panama
on his head and his trousers rolled up to his knees.
Give it time to take a bite.
The fishing float moves a little
He’s Nibbling. Nibbling. Oh
Bother. No-one move.
He’s dropped his spectacles in the shallows.
George (aged 5) feels a jerk on the line. He squeals and
drops the rod. The fish takes off upriver. Will goes after
the dropped rod.
On shore, Annie runs up with a collecting box to show her
I’ve got one.
She opens the box to show him a little black beetle.
The local parson, Innes, inclines his head to inspect it
What should I feed it?
A leaf I should think. What plant
did you find him on?
In the mud under that log.
Innes looks to Darwin for advice
…Or a piece of bark maybe.
Darwin peers at the insect
Cycrus caraboides. You can see
from the mandibles he’s a hunter.
He feeds on slugs and snails.
Annie runs off, calling to the other children
Etty! Willy! Find me some slugs.
When I said I knew something of
Oh tush…. I studied Theology
for a year but yet I know
exceedingly little of the bible.
Then once I am properly installed
at Down I shall take pleasure in
I should look forward to that
Emma, knowing her husband’s ambivalence towards religion,
casts him a slightly arch, amused look. Innes notices this,
though he pretends not to.
Hooker returns from the river, looking slightly damp, with
the rod which he has managed to retrieve
Everyone’s a bit wet. Sorry, but
the fish are surely biting. More
worms, boys, more worms.
George is looking under stones
Try over there, Georgey, we’ve
used all these ones up.
They move off, joining Annie and the other in their hunt
for crawling things. The air above them is heavy and
sparkling with pollen.
21 EXT. OCEAN. NIGHT 21
A sailing ship sails past, trailing phosphorescence it its
On the Beagle, quite, often we
would drop a flask in the ocean
and find it teeming with living
particles which glowed in the
22 INT. SHIP’S CABIN. NIGHT 22
The figure in silhouette of young Darwin inspects a flask
of sea water, glowing in the darkness.
He takes a few drops on a watch glass and places them on
the illuminated stage of his microscope.
Under the microscope, against a black background, millions
of tiny swimming animals.
23 EXT. BY THE RIVER BANK. THE PAST. DAY 23
Cut to the air above the picnickers – alive with glittering
particles – against the dark trees behind.
….so much beauty for so little
Surely not without purpose. They
were helping to light the ship’s
way were they not.
Darwin smiles at the idea, turns to Innes
Are you familiar with the works
of Thomas Malthus, Mr Innes?.
He married his first cousin
So did Charles…. So did I.
Oh, I was not at all
Emma waves it away. Just teasing
He made the point that if every
trout, say, has a hundred
offspring And so on and so on
through the generations. Then the
planet would be knee deep in
trout in just a few decades.
Of course most of the eggs are
destroyed and eaten so the
numbers remain stable. That is
the beauty of God’s plan.
Emma gives Darwin a “So there” look and hands Innes a
Cheese and cucumber
Somewhere in the woods, Annie has found a treasure trove of
worms and slugs.
ANNIE (O.S. DISTANT)
Over here ….there are millions!
It doesn’t strike you as an
exceedingly wasteful plan – these
myriad lives created only to be
(a gentle warning)
They are providing food for
You think they are happy about
Close up on a writing worm. Hooker is instructing George
how to put a worm on a hook.
Through his bottom and up though
his mouth – perfect
….To be doing Gods will.
Please ignore him. After two
glasses of claret he tends to
No I’m serious. If thousands are
destroyed that a few may live
their lives, is not the general
sum total of happiness not in
some kind of massive deficit?
Well far be it from me to
speculate on the mind of God, far
less the happiness of an
earthworm ha ha ha. But it seems
to me that nature is at
peace…and most of her denizens
You don’t agree.
I think it is a battlefield. A
constant and shifting struggle
for survival between everything
and everything else.
I really do think men have a
problem with natural beauty. They
cannot ever just accept it for
what it is.
Tell me of your wife Mr Innes.
Darwin lies back on the rug and turns his head away from
The base of a tangled hedgerow is just a few feet away.
Looking into its tangled depths he sees something gleaming
white – the skull of a sheep with briars growing through
the eye sockets.
24 EXT. BASE OF THE HEDGEROW. TIME-LAPSE. NIGHT 24
The sheep’s skull is half-decomposed.
In fast forward we see maggots pecking the remnants of
flesh from the bone, birds feeding on the maggots.
A bird becomes trapped among the briars. It flaps madly
upsetting a nest.
Eggs and blind featherless hatchlings fall down through the
dark web of branches where they are devoured by voles and
rats, then slugs, then worms
All the times tendrils and vines are growing, the skull –
bleached white – now encased in a cage of thick spiny
branches, fizzing with insect life, where ants and ground
beetles feast on the carcasses of slugs and….
25 INT. DARWIN’S BEDROOM. THE PRESENT. DAWN 25
Darwin wakes in sudden terror.
Dawn light illuminates the wallpaper in front of him – a
William Morris design of interweaving vines.
Emma, is asleep in her night-cap at his side.
Darwin lies for a while in the semi darkness, until his
hand, fluttering on the coverlet, becomes still at last.
26 INT. SCULLERY. THE PAST. DAY. 26
Light and noise.
Crash of gleaming copperware, clattering of water in the
pipes as the servants prepare Sunday breakfast
The cook, Mrs Davies looks out through a steamed up window
to see the angular figure of Charles Darwin, bent almost
double inspecting a tiny segment of lawn.
Brodie joins Mrs Davies at the window.
What is he doing now, exactly?
Cutting the grass with nail
Such a shame he never had a
proper job. At least your Mr
Thackeray had his books to write.
27 INT. DOWN HOUSE. THE PAST. DAY 27
Children thunder up and down the stairs between Brodie who
is doing a final check on grooming and Emma who is
marshalling them in the hall.
28 INT. HALLWAY. THE PAST. DAY 28
Chop chop Georgie. Socks! And you
have not buttoned your trousers.
Baby Lenny starts crying and she goes to comfort him
29 INT. GIRLS’ BEDROOM. THE PAST. DAY. 29
Brodie is arranging hair and tying ribbons for Annie (9)
Etty (6) and Betty (3)
Did you never think of getting
married Miss Brodie.
Once. But he went to Australia
and I missed my chance.
Willy passes the door, his hair in need of brushing.
Master William. Hairbrush.
William comes in. Brodie brushes the back of his hair.
Well what do you expect. It is a
Papa says God doesn’t care if we
Your father is a very wize man
but has a small understanding of
religion. No-one can read what
goes down in Gods great book of
Willy presents them for checking.
You can go.
30 INT. HALLWAY. THE PAST. DAY. 30
The children come racing and swinging and clattering down
Emma, holding the baby in one arm, steers a tricycle out of
the way, clearing a path to the door
Mrs Davies, Will you ask Jenny to
wear a bonnet. I would not like
people to think her fast.
George aged 5 tugs at her skirt
Can I bring my mouse for a
George (5) pulls it out from his pocket. Its dead, muddy
Elsie caught it in the barn. We
need to pray for his soul
Mice don’t have souls. Leave it
on the window sill. Everyone come
now or we shall be late.
31 EXT. LANEWAY. DOWN HOUSE. THE PAST. DAY 31
Pealing of church bells
Mist rises from the ploughed fields and hangs among the
A little procession heads down the lane. The Darwins –
Charles and Emma – plus their servants and children (older
now, for we have flipped into the present), all in their
The trees are bare. Their breath condenses as they walk.
32 EXT. VILLAGE SQUARE. THE PRESENT. DAY 32
The ancient flint church stands in the centre of Downe
(sic) village, opposite the George and Dragon pub.
A massive and venerable Yew tree casts its shade over a
number of gravestones one of them inscribed “to Mary Darwin
born Sept 1842 died Oct 1842.”
Beyond the church fence, villagers greet each other before
heading inside. The great majority of the village have
turned out, from Squire Lubbock through the tradesmen and
domestic servants from the village to the clodhoppers (farm
labourers) in their colored smocks.
Rev Innes is welcoming his large flock at the gate.
Ma’am. Welcome. Welcome
Then his eye moves on to Charles Darwin and his smile
falters, his expression turning slightly cold.
Darwin tips his hat rather stiffly and walks away, through
the throng of parishioners, leaving his family to file into
the church without him.
33 EXT. WOODLAND. PRESENT. DAY 33
Darwin walks across the meadow and into the woods.
A flock of crows take flight from the rookery in the bare
34 INT. DOVECOTE. PRESENT. DAY 34
In darkness, a furious struggle, squawking and frantically
Darwin seizes on a dove and backs out of the dovecote, the
silhouette of his upper torso taking shape in the square
hole in the floor.
He climbs down the ladder, passes the captive bird down to
Parslow, then climbs back up and pushes him upper body into
the dovecot again, in search of the next victim.
35 EXT. THE GARDEN. DOWN HOUSE. THE PRESENT. DAY 35
The dovecote is a substantial affair on four pillars with a
ladder in the centre.
Outside the dovecote, the boys are racing around playing at
soldiers. (Franky 10, Lenny 8, Horace 6)
Parslow has a number of the birds in cages
Ring the two milky pouters. We’ll
sacrifice the tumblers and
skeletonize them. Then…
He looks up as a coach appears in the lane. The boys
immediately break off from their game and run after it,
It’s Mr Hooker. It’s Mr Hooker!
Darwin tries to wipe the bird shit off his hands and
succeeds only in getting it on his sleeve.
His breathing quickens. He seems at a loss. Parslow is
awaiting further instructions
Then… what Sir?
Just. …to the shed with them. I
shall clean myself up.
He hurries off.
36 EXT. THE FRONT GATE. THE PRESENT. DAY. 36
The coach pulls up and Hooker alights – ten years older
than when we saw him catching fish, but still with the same
hallmark side whiskers and wire-rimmed spectacles, the same
springy step and ready grin.
Already he is being mobbed by the younger boys – Lenny,
Franky, and Horace – who clearly adore him.
– We’re the Light Brigade Horace
is a Russian.
Good choice Horace. I shall be
Lord Raglan and watch the
slaughter from a safe distance.
– Will you give us a piggy-back?
– Lenny cut his foot on a nail.
There was lots of blood!
Emma emerges from the front door. She smiles, pleased to
see Hooker despite her misgivings.
Then her smile falters as another man emerges from the
coach behind him.
Emma. Forgive the short notice.
You know Thomas Huxley.
Only by reputation
He insisted on coming and I could
not refuse him.
Tell papa his visitors are here.
He knows already.
He went that way.
Emma smiles brightly, covering for her embarrassment at her
husband’s increasingly erratic behavior.
Anyway. Come in please. Come in.
Hooker heads towards the house, the boy still clustered
Sir, Is it true when you were in
the Himalayas you were imprisoned
by the king of Sikkim?
And he thought you were a spy for
stealing his rhododendrons?
That’s approximately true.
….and he wouldn’t let you leave
unless you agreed to marry his
Yes. (Conspiratorial) ….but
you are never to tell my wife
Children leave Mr Hooker alone
now. I’m sure he has more
important things to discuss.
Not really, but I think Mr Huxley
Huxley has seen Darwin, washing his hands by the
Huxley hangs back to introduce himself as Hooker steers
Emma off into the house.
I have my heart set on a cup of
tea and one of Mrs Davies’
Emma looks anxiously after Huxley but allows herself to be
37 INT. KITCHEN. THE PRESENT. DAY . 37
Emma is by the kitchen window, rearranging tea things on a
The sky outside is dark and lowering.
Through the window she can see Darwin heading off down the
sand walk – head bowed, walking stick in hand – deep in
conversation with Huxley.
She drops a tea-cup which smashes on the stone floor.
I’ll do that ma’am. Please. Let
me do it.
38 EXT. DOWN HOUSE. THE SAND WALK. THE PRESENT. DAY. 38
The Sand-walk is a gravel walking path between the garden
and the fields, flanked by mature oaks and ancient willows.
We’re reforming the Linnean. The
committee will comprise myself,
Lyell, Huxley…yourself of
course if you are willing.
Darwin grunts noncommittally. The Crunch crunch of their
feet is punctuated by the regular stomp of his metal-shod
We intend to reclaim science as a
profession – wrest it away from
the country parsons and beetle-
collectors. Your book will be our
You know it is not yet any fit
state to publish.
I have read your detailed
abstract. The argument is
complete and utterly compelling.
All that is lacking is the detail
and we know you have that in
abundance. Your barnacle work has
established you as the pre-
eminent authority on marine life.
On one small mollusc!
In which the whole story of
creation can be read. Do not
pretend to me that was not your
A “family tree” of barnacles
stretching back 300 million years
to the time it was a free
There are many gaps.
Of course with gaps! But that is
the very point. If we but had the
complete fossil record we could
trace all life back to one speck
of protoplasm. The branching of
forms in ever more complex
Yes yes, but one cannot infer too
Mr Darwin. Either you are being
disingenuous or you do not fully
understand you own
accomplishment. You have killed
….and good riddance to the
bearded malicious old bugger!
Please I must beg of you….
No. I must beg of you sir. Joseph
Hooker we know is too nice a chap
to do it. You are a fine and
brilliant man who hates to give
offence – an admirable quality –
wish I had it myself. But what do
we believe? What do we know to be
true. Will you light the way or
leave us all to flounder in the
mire for another decade.
He stops and lowers himself onto a bench, teeth clenched.
Are you alright?
A touch of indigestion. It will
Its clearly worse than that, but Huxley, refusing to be
distracted, blithely ignores it and sits down beside him
til the worst of it passes.
It is time to write your book Mr
Darwin. Write it brilliantly as
we all know you can. Strike hard
and fast with a blow that is
Sir, you are talking like a
revolutionary and really…
It is a revolution. And not
Goodbye to the lot of em – damned
bishops and Archbishops with
their threats of eternal
And you’d replace Gods Laws with
The laws of logic. The laws of
Knowing, as we do, that most
capital crimes are her everyday
practises: Theft, rape, murder,
Huxley waves it away
We live in a society bound
together by the church. An
improbable sort of barque I grant
you but at least it floats. You
suggest we change all that at a
stroke. You wish me to rebuild,
plank by plank, the very vessel
we are sailing in.
39 EXT. DOWN HOUSE. DAY. 39
The Coach to London has pulled up outside the front gate.
Huxley is aboard. Darwin is talking with the coachman
Hooker comes down the path in his black coat, carrying his
He turns. He has already said his good-byes.
I beg you, please don’t push him.
No-one can push Charles. You know
how fixed he is. Bit of a
barnacle himself … his own
And if you prize him from his
rock he will die. I know you all
mean well but….
Hooker gets aboard. Huxley leans out of a window and waves
cheerily to the whey-faced Darwin
We’ll meet again, Mr Darwin
40 INT. THE LANEWAY. DAY 40
The coach pulls away.
Looking back though the rear window Hooker sees Emma with
the boys clustered around her skirts.
What did she say to you?
That it was killing him.
A mighty slow death considering
the time he’s spent. We’ll be
dead and buried ourselves if he
prevaricates much longer.
Huxley takes off his spectacles and polishes them,
embarrassed by Huxley’s directness, inspecting his own
conscience in the bevelled glass.
41 INT. DARWIN’S STUDY. NIGHT 41
In the darkened study, with his specimens and books all
around him, Darwin kneels by the box.
Steeling himself, he unlocks the padlock and opens the lid
and takes out the papers and notebooks which are stored
The bulk of it is a single manuscript, accumulated over
many years, divided into 14 chapters with pages of notes
The Chapters are headed. Variation under domestication,
variation under nature, Struggle for Existence, Natural
A noise behind him almost makes him jump out of his skin.
Its Annie, ten years old in her checked dress, as she will
always be in his imagination.
Why are you scared?
Like you said. You’re in it.
Its only a book, silly.
He sits there regarding the open box, paralysed by
indecision. Annie tenderly smooths his hair, rearranging
What are you doing, Annie?
I’m making you beautiful.
I have to work.
Though the soft touch of her little hands is almost too
real for him to bear and he closes his eyes
Breath in, papa. Breathe out. Now
Tell me a story.
I have no time….
About Jenny. Please?
The sound of a wave breaking. Wind stirs Darwin’s hair
He opens his eyes and he is ….
42 EXT. ENGLISH BEACHSIDE. THE PAST DAY 42
Sitting with Annie ten years ago on an English pebble
She has collected a pile of shells and is arranging them in
The dialogue is continuous
Why do you always ask for Jenny?
Its so sad.
That’s why I like it. It makes me
She looks up from her shells and smiles winningly.
Darwin looks out to sea, at the bright crashing line of
surf, and begins the familiar, much-told tale:
Once apon a time there was a
family of Orang-u-tangs living in
the jungles of darkest Borneo
43 EXT. JUNGLES OF BORNEO. DAY 43
Our POV moves between dark tropical trees to find a group
of Orangutans flopping around grooming each other.
As with the land of the Fuegan savages, there is something
slightly artificial about these jungles, as though the
trees really belong in Kew gardens, and the naked jungle
warriors, whom we now see stalking through them, are on
loan from the museum of mankind.
Their eldest daughter was the
most loving, caring and trusting
Orang of all.
We follow a young nimble female, swinging through the
trees, revelling in her own gymnastic ability, until she
stops – hearing something: the sound of human speech.
But these qualities in themselves
cannot guarantee an ape’s
survival. Sometimes, quite the
Native hunters are creeping through the undergrowth
A warning screech from one of the Orang-u-tangs posted as
Most of the apes flee up into the canopy. Jenny stays where
she is, fascinated, just a moment longer than is prudent.
When she realized her danger it
was too late.
As she turns to flee a weighted net is thrown on top of
her. The hunters pounce.
They put her in a bag and carried
” much to her loving parent’s
The family screech and hoot, anguished, as the hunters head
back off through the trees.
44 EXT. MARKET-PLACE. DAY 44
Exotic coins and bank-notes pass from hand to hand: from
the tribal chief to the sultan, in his overlarge turban,
from the sultan to the trader in his solar topee and
stained white suit.
The hunters sold her the to the
Sultan who promptly sold her to a
visiting Englishman who packed
her aboard a sailing ship and
brought her to London zoo.
Jenny is taken out of a bamboo cage and put into a metal
45 INT. CARGO SHIP. DAY 45
The cage is lowered by a crane. Jenny looks out from her
swaying prison at spinning grey skies and brick warehouses.
46 INT. CAGE. LONDON ZOO. DAY 46
Now she sits disconsolately in a corner of her permanent
She has been dressed, ridiculously and poignantly in a
smock and a bonnet.
A group of onlookers are trying to get a reaction out of
her. Eventually they give up and move on.
In London she had many admirers –
of whom your father was but one.
Darwin moves forwards from the shadows, where he has been
observing and taking notes.
As the other humans move away be attempts to start a
conversation with Jenny in her own language, much in the
way he communicated with baby Annie.
Hoo hoo hoo hoo.
Jenny regards him sceptically then looks away.
She startles and looks at him aggressively.
He reaches in his pocket. This gets her interest. She comes
closer, expecting food.
Darwin takers out a sprig of verbena – a strongly scented
He holds in front of his nose and inhales, making contented
expressions of pleasure.
Darwin holds the verbena towards Jenny.
Cautiously she extends a hand through the bars.
Their fingers touch in space, like God Giving life to Adam.
For Darwin its a breakthrough – a moment of connection.
Jenny eats the verbena and spits it out, shrieking angrily.
Wait, sorry, wait – I’ve got
something else here for you
He reaches in his pocket. She cocks her head, alert.
With the air of a conjurer, he pulls out:
A child’s hand mirror, flashing as it catches the sun
through the skylights.
He shows Jenny her own reflection and, then hands the
mirror through the bars.
Jenny takes the mirror, bites it, discovers it is inedible,
and smashes it on the ground.
Charles makes a sad, whining sound
Hew Hew Hew…
Meaning: “OK then, I’m sorry.”
It’s such a complex human reaction – grudging contrition –
that Charles laughs aloud with pleasure.
Charles takes out a mouth organ and plays a snatch of
Jenny covers her ears and chatters. “Not listening not
Charles, insulted, stops playing.
Jenny laughs waves a hand as if to say: “Play, if it amuses
you. I’m must kidding.”
47 EXT. THE BEACH. THE PAST. DAY 47
The salt wind. The dazzling light. The slow pulse of the
Darwin has paused in his narrative.
Go on papa.
Go on what.
The bit where she gets sick and
No. Why do you want to hear that
I just like it. It makes me cry.
Darwin smiles, his own eyes filling with tears.
Then a door opens, softly, in the sky.
48 INT. THE STUDY. THE PRESENT. NIGHT 48
It opens wider to reveal Emma’s elegant profile, framed
against the gaslight of the hallway.
Her POV: the black box is unlocked and open, its contents
strewn around the floor at darwins feet.
Darwin is sitting on the floor of the study holding in his
had a magazine, published by the Society for the useful
Distribution of Knowledge, with a picture of Jenny on the
Are you coming to bed?
He doesn’t move. She comes in
What did Huxley want?
He thinks I should write it and
be done with it. He feels it is a
question of moral courage …or
the lack of it.
You did not tell him about your
His theory is that I am making
myself ill by holding back. That
I should lance the boil. Plunge
in and hang the consequences.
Thank the Lord he is not a
Darwin takes a breath and plunges in himself:
I’ve concluded he is right. Bite
the gag. Speed is everything. It
will all be over in a matter of
Emma is horrified.
It is not mere months that
concern me Charles. Nor even
years or decades…
Its said quietly but with genuine anguish. To Emma it is
as though her life partner has announced he’s contemplating
Do you really care so little for
your immortal soul – for the
knowledge that you and I may
never be together, in all of
You know that what concerns you
concerns me also. What do think
has held me in limbo all these
Emma has. They both know it. She turns abruptly from the
door and hurries away.
49 INT. BEDROOM. THE PRESENT. NIGHT. 49
Emma has been crying. She lies in bed pretending to sleep.
Darwin gets into bed behind her. He wants desperately to
reach out a hand to touch her, to comfort her, but he
cannot do it for fear of weakening his own fragile resolve.
Dearest Emma. You know This is
not a decision made lightly….
50 INT. DARWINS STUDY. THE PRESENT. DAWN 50
In the dawn light, Darwin is writing a letter to his wife.
…. It has been a very slow and
gradual process, like the raising
51 EXT. GARDEN. THE PRESENT. DAY. 51
EMMA stands alone in the wintry garden, a white apron over
her black dress, reading.
What else can I say to you,
except that it seems the process
is now complete.
A tear tracks down the curve of Emma’s cheek as she folds
the letter, puts it in her pocket and return to the
business of dead-heading flowers.
In voice over we hear singing.
All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small.
All things wize and wonderful,
The lord God made them all.
52 EXT. DOWN VILLAGE CHURCH . THE PAST. DAY. 52
Move in through the graveyard, past the ancient yew..
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.
53 INT. DOWNE VILLAGE CHURCH. THE PAST. DAY. 53
The church is packed for the Sunday Morning service
The Darwin family stand in the front row.
Emma, the servants and the rest of the family are singing
lustily: Parslow – a somewhat pompous operatic tenor,
Brodie and Innes both loudly Scottish (Innes out of tune),
Annie by Darwins side, trilling along in a tuneful little
She notices her father is not singing and offers him her
hymn book with the words.
Darwin smiles and returns it. Its not that he doesn’t know
the lyrics, its just that he can’t bring himself to say
All things bright and beautiful
all creatures great and small.
All things wize and wonderful the
Lord God made them all.
The organ, played by Mrs Innes, wheezes to a pause. Innes
himself mounts the pulpit.
Let us pray.
Everyone bows their heads in prayer.
Lord God we know the world is
governed by Thy plan.
Darwin is immediately not listening.
He looks along the row of his children, standing dutifully
in a line between Charles and Emma.
George, aged 5, is studying the woodlice which are nesting
between the pages of his hymnal
Extending even to the merest
creatures thou hast made, such
that even a sparrow falls not to
the ground without thy will.
Darwin, stands watching the play of light from the stained
glass window on his shoes. Then raises his head
Teach us that all misfortune.
All sickness and death, all the
trials and miseries of which we
daily complain are intended for
our good, being not the vagaries
of an uncaring universe but the
corrections of a wize and
Innes looks up sternly and sees the Darwin’s head raised
among the sea of down-turned heads.
Their eyes meet briefly in a sort of challenge, and in that
moment, Darwin somehow knows with absolutely certainty that
religious faith has left him.
With a whispered word to the beadle standing next to him to
take the collection Darwin slips out from the pew and heads
off up the aisle.
He’s intending to be quiet and subtle but the creaking
boards under his feet loudly announce his departure.
Innes raises his voice above the fusillade.
Turn with me now to the book of
Job, Chapter Two verse twelve
The congregation, not daring to raise their heads, watch
Darwin’s sturdy walking shoes departing down the aisle.
54 EXT. THE CHURCH. THE PAST. DAY. 54
The rise and fall of Innes’s voice continues in the
background as Darwin walks out from the porch, emerging
from shadow into sunlight.
A summers day. He feels like a weight has been lifted.
The church beadle comes out behind him.
Are you all right, sir?
Never better. Thank-you.
He heads off up the gravel path
55 INT WOODLANDS. THE PRESENT. DAY 55
The faint and Distant sound of church singing filters
through the misty woods. The black wet trunks of trees
catch the sunlight.
Frosty dew highlights Mistletoe and holly and dead bracken
and the sudden red flash of a robin.
Darwin cuts a strange dark angular figure, walking along
the narrow track a single step at a time.
He pauses breathing, and listens.
His quick eye catches the robin seizing a worm.
Further on. A pheasant breaks cover. A hare stands upright
in a clearing then bounds away.
Darwin looks down and takes another step, placing his feet
carefully, silently so as not to disturb the wildlife.
Cut to a different pair of much newer shoes in exactly the
56 INT. WOODLANDS. THE PAST. DAY 56
Darwin is ten years younger, pacing in the same, measured
way through summer woodland.
There’s a noise behind him and he turns, finger to his lips
Annie turns away from him and passes the sign down the line
of children: Etty, George, Betty and Franky, in decreasing
order of height.
What are we looking at?
The question comes back up the line
The children bunch up to gaze on a strange and wonderful
In a little sun-dappled clearing a weasel is turning loop
the loops in a strange spiralling dance for the benefit
…a young rabbit, which sits utterly hypnotized by the
At first its strange and amusing, then the dance becomes
more sinister. The weasel advancing by tiny increments as
it tumbles in the air, finally
The weasel seizes the bunny rabbit by the back of the neck
and shakes it savagely.
The rabbit shrieks and spasms.
Annie is beside herself, drumming the ground with her feet
in a fever of fear and pity.
The rabbit is still in its dearth throes, its neck broken,
its back legs still jerking
No! No! Stop it. Daddy. Stop it.
Make it stop.
The rabbit is already dead.
Annie, Annie, Annie.
He sinks to his knees, heedless of the mud on his Sunday
best worsted, embracing her.
The others are shocked and amazed by the rabbits death, but
none of them distressed as Annie. They are country children
and death is an everyday event
The chickens do that too when
cookie kills them
Chickens are different!
(To her father)
Why didn’t you do something. You
should have stopped it!
The weasel has to eat. Its the
way of the world. Annie
Its not fair. Its not fair.
No, its not fair at all.
Patting her and stroking her as the little sobs subside.
The weasel is dragging the dead rabbit back to its lair.
….but still it is
extraordinary, do you not think,
that a weasel should learn to
dance the polka.
Despite herself the concept amuses Annie. Chest still
heaving with sobs – she dries her eyes and smiles at him
through her tears.
57 INT. DOWN HOUSE. BEDROOMS. THE PAST .NIGHT . 57
Piano music – Chopin – plays softly over as Charles and
Emma do the rounds of their large brood of children,
turning out lamps and kissing sleeping heads, taking a doll
from one sleeping child’s embrace, a sword from another.
Shooing a cat and her kittens from the bedroom.
Darwin watches his wife, a sensuous figure, stooped over
the sleeping child, a lock of hair falling forwards as she
DARWIN AND EMMA
She’s sound asleep. Finally Charles and Emma are alone
together in the blissfully silent house.
He takes her hand and leads her to their bedroom.
58 EXT. THE BEACH. THE PAST. DAY 58
Emma lies on a rug, her head is in Darwin’s lap. She is
reading aloud from a new book of poems by Wordsworth.
“Loving she is, and tractable
And innocence hath privilege in
To dignify arch looks and
And feats of cunning; and the
Of trespasses, affected to
provoke Mock chastisement, and
partnership in play”
She puts the book down
Then we were wrong. She is not
unique after all.
Darwin is watching Annie dancing in front of the surf ,
turning cartwheels – a wild dancing sprite of the sea,
oblivious to the cold, shouting and singing:
59 THE BEACH. LATER 59
Later, Near the cliff, Darwin is “geologising”
He’s excited, breathless and windswept, shouting over the
sound of the nearby surf as he clambers over the huge
assorted boulders pointing out the geological strata to his
kids who are more interested in clambering.
This is Devonian, about 400
million years ago. Rocks like
this might have fishes in them,
trilobites, tree ferns, corals
He knock off a corner of rock with his geological hammer,
then moves on
Is this a bit?
No that is Cretaceous Etty. It
was made a hundred millions years
ago, when this cliff was a coral
reef and Down village was a swamp
full of great crocodiles.
Tap tap tap with his hammer as the boys scramble upwards,
playing at mountaineers.
We might find oysters and sponges
imprinted in it, or dinosaurs if
we were lucky…
What’s a dinosaur?
Professor Owen invented them.
They are the giant lizards which
lived on earth before there were
But they weren’t real
Of course they are, Betty. Did I
never tell you of the skeletons I
found in South America
Do you remember Mr Martell?
Annie arrives, hopping nimbly over the rocks still in her
Yes you do. When he came to tea
and showed us drawings of his
Iguanodon. And George burnt his
fingers roasting chestnuts.
She doesn’t remember.
You should have your clothes on
Annie. You are quite blue.
Savages don’t swear clothes.
She runs to the top of a great fallen rock, spreads her
arms out, and yells to the sky.
I’m a Fuegan.
Well don’t fall and hurt
yourself. Your mother would never
Annie gives a shout and disappears head over heels.
I’ve found one!
In the rubble at the base of the rocks she has landed,
unhurt and quite by accident on a perfect specimen of a
60 INT. DARWIN’S STUDY. THE PRESENT. DAY 60
The black box lies open with all its secrets strewn around
Stacks of paper – a stack for every chapter – are held down
with paperweights – a fossil, a skull, a specimen bottle.
Darwin squares a stack of blank paper between his hands,
then reaches for his pen.
61 INT. VILLAGE SCHOOL. THE PAST . DAY. 61
Annie reaches for her pen.
Reverend Innes is giving the children their writing
lessons, according to “Mulhauser’s technique”
The children assume the position as if in some militaristic
Grips are adjusted, pens are dipped.
Assume the distance.
The children lean back fractionally, so their elbows are
just back from the edge of the desk.
The Children start to copy the sentence which Innes has
written on the blackboard.
Annie reads the sentence and hesitates: “And on the seventh
day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested”
62 INT DARWIN’S STUDY. DAY. 62
Darwin massages his cramped hand then takes a blank sheet
Dearest Hooker. I am one week
into the great project and I feel
at last that it is real. Its
title is “On the Origin of
Species.” As I write theses words
why does it feel as though I am
confessing to a murder…
A paper stirs in the breeze and he pins it with the nearest
object to hand – Annie’s trilobite.
His eye rests on it a moment
63 INT. DARWIN’S STUDY. THE PAST . DAY 63
The corrugated gray surface, greatly magnified.
The Darwin of ten years ago is examining the trilobite with
a watchmakers eyeglass.
There is a small mirror above his desk, angled so as to
give him a view of the path leading round from the front of
Innes appears briefly in it, preceded by Annie, who is
trotting to keep pace with him and crying.
Darwin, intent on his work, notices neither of them
From downstairs he hears the door knocker then Brodie’s
voice, then Emma’s overlapping with half-heard fragments of
Innes’s Scottish brogue.
I thought you needed to know why
I had to chastised her.
Darwin remains immersed, examining each detail of the
trilobite, comparing it with other specimens in books and
….It is not fair to the other
nor to Annie herself that her
head be filled with these ideas….
Are you listening, Annie?
Annie sobs louder, incoherent in her grief.
Darwin finally focusses on the sounds, recognizes her
distress and gets up to investigate.
64 EXT .UPPER HALLWAY. DAY. 64
He reaches the top of the stairs. Annie is directly below
him, slumped, still sobbing at the foot of the stairs.
Emma has ushered Innes to the porch out of sight.
I shall bid you good day then
The front door closes. Darwin comes downstairs
Its not nothing. (To Annie) Why
are your knees bleeding?
Mr Innes had to have words with
her. It is sorted now.
Words are very well. I am asking
what happened to her knees.
Mr Innes sent me to the corner
and made me kneel on rock-salt.
(in a rush)
I said there were dinosaurs and
he said there wasn’t dinosaurs
but there were because you saw
Annie. Let me talk to your
father. He told her to kneel til
The bleeding is due to her own
stubborn-ness. It is finished
It is by no means finished. Where
is my coat. Its intolerable
Charles ignores her, Forcing his arm into the sleeve of his
Mr Innes is a dear friend and
neighbor. I beg you at least
appraise yourself the facts. She
contradicted him repeatedly. The
fault was Annie’s Mr Innes was
quite within his rights.
(his arm is stuck)
In his rights to torture our
children for expressing the plain
Brodie appears and Darwin ushers Annie towards her
…Please take her to It is not the truth as he
kitchen. sees it
Well damn how he sees it. Damn
the pair of them and all their
Charles listen to yourself.
Blocking his path as he heads for the door. Her palm flat
on his lapel, soothing, reasoning with him
Emma please. I will not have
Innes tell me what I can and
cannot tell my children.
It is what I have told them every
night at bedtime. It is the
instruction my aunt and your
brother and most of our family
live by. It is what all of the
village believe …or try to.
Charles. Must our children be
revolutionaries at nine years of
age. Write to him with your
concerns – our concerns – about
the manner of the punishment but
please do not set yourself
against him. Think of my feelings
on this. I beg you.
Finally his outrage has spent itself, neutralized by her
gentle persistence and the deep affection he holds for her.
You’re right of course…. I’m
He embraces her.
Emma is reassured, she cannot see the conflict written all
over Darwins face.
65 INT. STUDY. DAY. (THE PRESENT) 65
The conflicted expression has hardened, the furrows in
Darwin’s brow etched deeper, as he dips his pen and begins
the second chapter.
From the floor below we can hear Emma practising a piece of
music on the piano – Chopin’s revolutionary etude: a
rippling, brooding arpeggio running up and down the
keyboard, redolent of an angry sea.
Darwin’s pen scratches doggedly over the paper.
66 INT. BEDROOM. NIGHT. 66
In the bedroom, in his nightgown, Darwin scrubs the ink
stains off his fingers with a pumice stone.
Emma passes behind him, preparing for bed. He glances at
her in the mirror
You’re still angry with me.
I can always tell by your
Not angry. I’m sad.
67 INT. DARWIN’S STUDY. THE PRESENT. DAY 67
Darwin sits at his desk, writing and editing, his hand
clamped on the pen.
A voice speaks from nowhere
Talk to her.
And say what? She does not want
to hear it.
Then write to her.
That is what I am doing Annie, I
am writing all of it.
68 EXT. DARWIN’S STUDY. DAY 68
Emma, passing the open door glimpses Darwin talking angrily
to himself as he writes.
….and then she can read it, and
we can all be free of this! Now,
please, Annie no more
69 EXT. GARDEN. DAWN 69
The music continues, louder.
A frosty coating of dew covers the lawn.
Footprints lead to a strange wooden tower in the garden.
Parslow stands outside, shivering in the grey morning
Darwin shouts from inside.
Parslow pulls a lever.
There’s the sound of crashing water, a yell of pain from
inside the tower.
Ravens rise, calling, from the surrounding trees.
70 INT. DARWIN’S STUDY. THE PRESENT. DAY 70
Darwin dips his pen, scores out some text from his previous
draft and writes again.
The music continues from downstairs, louder and more
insistent than before.
71 LOUNGE ROOM. THE PRESENT. DAY 71
Emmas hands race back and forwards along the piano
72 INT DARWIN’S STUDY. THE PRESENT 72
Darwin’s pen scratches across the pages, making a noise
like fingernails on a blackboard.
The music from downstairs seeming to drive into his skull
He speaks aloud the words he is writing, in an effort to
drown out the piano music.
DARWIN (THOUGHT VOICE)
… In time small variations become
Strange detailed drawings of barnacles are strewn across
his desk, seeming to change and transmute before his eyes.
…Organs change their very
function, the oviduct becomes a
He stops. His hand is shaking too much to write.
What’s an oviduct?
Nothing that need concern you.
I know what it is anyway.
Darwin gets up abruptly from his desk.
73 INT. WATER TOWER. DAY 73
Darwin stands naked, clutching to two hand rails for
support as a great tub of freezing water tilts and pours
its contents on top of him.
74 EXT DOVECOTE 74
Birds rush out from the dovecote
75 INT. STUDY 75
Darwin dips his pen and writes
….What was once a free-
swimming creature now finds
itself glued by its head to a
rock, flailing for food with its
The Revolutionary etude is continuous now – real or
76 UNDER THE SEA 76
Underwater, among the swirling seaweed, fragile sea
creatures being torn this way and that by the raging surf
77 INT. MALVERN SPA TREATMENT ROOM. DAY 77
Annie screams and kicks her legs, overwhelmed by water in
some dark place.
Pull back to reveal:
78 INT. HELL. 78
A vision of hell:
The water is fire.
The barnacles are people.
The people are Annie, Emma and Darwin.
79 INT. BEDROOM. NIGHT 79
Darwin wakes in a panic and sits up in bed. He raises his
right arm and looks down at his inky writing hand
fluttering in the moonlight, like an organ with a will all
of its own
Emma is a sleep. There’s a crucifix on the wall above her
bed. On the bedside table there’s a bible.
” …About the midst of this
valley I perceived the mouth of
hell to be; and it stood also
hard by the wayside. Now, thought
Christian, what shall I do?
80 INT. NURSERY. THE PRESENT. NIGHT 80
The children are gathered around Emma who is reading a bed-
time story to them by lamplight.
Emma is in the centre of a circle of little attentive
She’s aware of Darwin, standing in the darkened corridor
beyond the door, drawn to the cosy little group but unable
to join it.
She lets him be. Continues reading
And ever and anon the flame and
smoke would come out in such
abundance with sparks and hideous
noises, that he was forced to put
up his sword, and betake himself
to another weapon, called “All
81 INT. ETTY’S ROOM NIGHT. 81
The older girls Etty and Betty finish their prayers and
jump into bed in their night-gowns
Emma comes in to take away their lamp.
Is Daddy not coming to kiss us
He is still a little bit ill from
working …maybe tomorrow.
That’s what you said last night.
Emma turns out the light. In the darkness Etty says.
I think when Annie died he
stopped loving us.
Emma returns to her bedside
Oh come now, Etty. You know
that’s not true. He is just a
little bit ill – and a little bit
82 INT. BOILER ROOM. DAY 82
In the bowels of Down House the house, we find Darwin
wrapped in wet towels sweating in front of the wood-burning
As he gazes into the leaping flames, Annie appears at his
Is there really such a place as
No of course not. How can there
If he is supposed to be loving
and forgiving – what on earth is
the sense punishing all these
millions of souls.
But just suppose if there was.
And all this was punishment.
I don’t know what you mean. All
83 INT THE WATER TOWER. DAY 83
Darwin stands, legs apart in the water tower bracing
himself like a colossus against the full force of the
84 EXT THE WATER TOWER. DAY 84
The gardener, splitting logs, watches Darwin stagger from
the tower with a rug wrapped around him, and make his way
back to the house.
85 INT. DARWIN’S BEDROOM. DAY. 85
Darwin lowers himself into bed, inky and tousled. He seems
prematurely aged, crippled by the gruelling process of
writing the book.
As he lies there, unable to sleep lines of written text
seems to appear behind his closed eyes, or in the tangled
vines of the wallpaper.
Emma speaks from the other side of the bed.
Talk to Mr Innes. Please. You are
clearly not well
He is what? A physician now
You know what I mean. I think he
can help you.
Charles remains stubbornly silent, his hand fluttering over
I am taking the children to Maer
for a while, to visit their
I worry for you, Charles. Please
talk to him
86 INT DARWIN’S STUDY. DAY 86
Fire flares in the grate as Darwin compares the skeletons
of various pigeons.
He starts a new Chapter: “changes under domestication”
87 INT. THE DOVECOTE. THE PRESENT. DAY 87
Pigeons mate and coo in the dusty twilight.
88 EXT. THE DOVECOTE. THE PRESENT. DAY 88
Parslow picks up two of them, casually wrings their necks
and heads off with them to the skeletonizing shed.
89 INT. DARWINS STUDY. THE PRESENT. DAY 89
Darwin Looks out of the study window, searching for
He sees Emma and the children getting into a coach with
90 INT. DARWIN’S STUDY. THE PRESENT. NIGHT. 90
Darwin sits at his desk.
He has written the chapter heading and nothing else.
Parslow knocks and looks in
Will you be eating sir.
No thank you.
Parslow leaves. Darwin addresses the empty room.
She will not come.
91 EXT. THE BEACH. THE PAST. DAY 91
Annie dancing in the surf. One minute she is there and the
next she has vanished, lost among the churning waves.
Darwin leaps top his feet shouting
Raucous male laughter takes us to
92 INT. PUBLIC HOUSE. THE PAST. EVENING. 92
The George and Dragon on a Saturday night. The air loud
with laughter and thick with pipe smoke.
Clodhoppers crowd the snug, many of them roaring drunk,
with their florid complexions, stained and broken teeth.
Darwin trying, to slip in discreetly is spied by a group of
locals who hail him and gather around him, wedging him into
a corner with their overloud loud talk and laughter.
Mr Darwin! Mr Darwin! I was
explaining to Mr Goodman here
your interest in breeding. Mr
Darwin is our foremost scholar in
No. No I am but one of many.
There is Squire Lubbock, and the
The Thatcher waves them away as lesser talents.
….he is also a noted explorer,
the author of many books..
…which no-one has read.
…a fellow of the Royal society
and a prodigious expert on
Mr Goodman, now, is the foremost
pigeon fancier in all the
southern counties. Kent champion
two years running. I swear he can
give you any beak or plumage in
four generations. Head and tail
How do you do it?
By breeding cousin with cousin. I
find it the fastest way to alter
the strain – provided you do not
weaken it in other ways.
Darwin takes a slug of whiskey
93 INT. DARWIN’S STUDY. THE PRESENT. NIGHT 93
He is drinking in his office.
The clock strikes twelve. The page in front of him remains
Darwin is rising from his desk when he sees something move.
In one of the bottles on his desk, a fleshy marine specimen
seems to have come to life.
It writhes blindly in its bottle of formalin, making a
sound like a baby crying.
Darwin, recoiling in horror, pushes himself back from his
desk. The castors on his chair trundle back from his desk.
Behind him he hears a tapping and turns to see that all the
birds in his big glass display case of Galapagos finches
have started to beat against the inside the crowded glass
case. They flutter, frenzied, tapping with their beaks on
the inside of the glass, which shatters as…
One by one the bottled specimens explode, discharging their
contents onto the floor.
A lamp falls over. The room is filled with birds the floor
awash with formalin and broken glass.
The Study seems to tilt like the cabin of a ship in a storm
94 INT. DARWIN’S BEDROOM. THE PRESENT. DAWN 94
Darwin wakes from the nightmare asleep at his desk, the
whiskey bottle a quarter empty, ink on his hands and his
He gets up and puts on his shoes.
95 INT. DOWN HOUSE. DRAWING ROOM. THE PRESENT. DAWN . 95
The scullery maid, lighting the fire, looks round and sees
He walks past her without a word and heads out into the
96 EXT. DOWN HOUSE GARDEN. THE PRESENT. DAWN 96
Darwin heads across the lawn, takes a key from his belt and
opens the door of the skeletonizing shed.
97 INT. SKELETONIZING SHED. THE PRESENT. DAWN 97
In the grey light he takes in the corpses of doves from the
Some have been skinned, their pelts curing on frames, their
carcasses steeping in a buckets chemicals which remove the
flesh from the bones.
Previously he regarded this place as a sort of laboratory.
Now it seems a place of horror.
The door opens behind him. Its Parslow.
Get rid of them.
Which ones sir?
All of them. All of it.
98 INT. DOVECOTE. THE PRESENT. DAWN 98
Darwin reaches into the dovecote and starts grabbing
pigeons at random, dragging them out and flinging them into
99 EXT. DOWN HOUSE. THE PRESENT. DAWN. 99
Displaced doves beat the air.
Darwin climbs down the ladder, grabs and axe and attacks
the wooden stanchions supporting the dovecote
Parslow comes running over from the skeletonizing shed,
Sir. Mr Darwin.
Darwin stands back, hair wild, eyes crazed, his sleeves
covered in bird shit.
Please rest sir. I’ll have John
Lewis remove it. Have some
breakfast now and rest. Shall I
call the doctor?
Or the water tower.
A pox on all of them!
100 INT. ANNIE’S ROOM. THE PAST. DAY 100
The local doctor Henry Holland takes out various
concoctions from his medical bag and arranges them on the
We are in the past. Annie is in bed with a fever.
Emma is pregnant.
Calomel then, twice daily.
I will not give it to her.
Charles…. Mrs Darwin, it is nothing but
chloride of mercury. I have
prescribed it often in
children as young as two.
Not to any of mine I hope. On the
Beagle I dropped some on a
microscope slide and all my
animacules died of it.
Well animacules are not persons.
Presumably they would die if you
dose them with Madeira wine.
On Madeira they thrived most
excellently, as did Captain
Fitzroy, while it lasted.
Annie enjoys the joke and gives Darwin a weak smile. The
doctor regards her balefully
Or if she would submit to be
I will write to Dr Gully again.
I have always found his
treatments most effective.
…no matter that they defy all
sense of logic.
He is packing up his bottles and his lancets
Logic is not everything.
Emma shoots him a look. Til now scientific logic has been
his guiding principle.
Then I shall bid you good day.
Parslow will bring your carriage.
I will be down presently
The doctor leaves the room. Emma is in a terrible quandary
I should take her to Malvern.
I think it is better she is here.
Gully can care for her properly
there. She can be treated daily,
as I was.
Charles no. She is better with
us. With her family. Please do
not take her away from me.
101 INT. DARWIN’S STUDY. THE PRESENT. DAY 101
Parslow enters to find his master staring vacantly into
The page in front of him is still blank.
The study is in chaos. It seems as though the contents of
the black box have multiplied and spread out to colonize
every corner of the room.
Post for you sir.
He leaves it by Darwins elbow and backs out.
After a while Darwin seems to rouse himself.
He picks up the largest envelope, postmarked Malaysia, and
slits it with a letter knife.
The sender is a Mr Wallace. There’s a covering letter and a
twenty page attachment Darwin reads, and lets out a sudden
loud bellow of laughter.
102 EXT. DOWN HOUSE. THE PRESENT. DAY. 102
Darwin sits in sunshine at the rear of the house, rugged up
against the cold. Looking frail still, but oddly at peace.
Ah, there you are Mr Darwin.
Darwin looks up blinking in the sunlight to see the stocky,
dark-suited figure of Mr Innes.
May I join you.
By odd means
He makes some space on the bench. Innes hesitates, unable
to read Darwin’s feelings towards him. The smile is
welcoming enough but there is something not altogether
balanced about it
Mrs Darwin informed me you would
be alone and ….perhaps a need
He sees an envelope on the ground and stoops to retrieve
You dropped this. What a
beautiful postage stamp.
Yes. It is from the Spice
I do rather envy your wide circle
of correspondents. In my youth I
always wanted to travel.
You are still young. You could be
a missionary and follow in Mr
Yes, although I have always felt
there is quite enough evil at
home without looking for it
Mrs Darwin told me of the book
you are writing.
Not any more, thank goodness
You have finished it?
It has been finished for me. My
correspondent In the spice
islands has arrived independently
at exactly the same idea,
expressed in a mere twenty pages.
There’s brevity for you. I had so
far covered two hundred an fifty
and come to a dead end. So
finally I am rid of the project.
Innes is relieved to hear it
The Lord moves in mysterious
He does indeed Mr Innes. I was
reflecting only the other day on
the fact that he has endowed us
in his blessed generosity with
not one but nine hundred species
of intestinal worm each with its
own unique method of infiltrating
the blood supply and burrowing
through the mucosa.
Innes shifts uncomfortably.
And then again on the great love
he shows for butterflies by
inventing a wasp to lay eggs
inside the living flesh of
Well. It is not for us to guess
at His reasons.
No. We can leave that for Mr
Wallace now. Should I advise him
to stay overseas do you think? If
he shows his face in Kent he may
be required to kneel on rock
Innes rises. He’s a short man, acutely aware of any threats
to his dignity, and he’s had enough of this mockery
I once valued our friendship Mr
Darwin. I had hoped it might be
possible to restore it. Clearly
in your present mood that is not
going to be possible. My regards
to Mrs Darwin
He starts off round the corner of the house.
Darwin listens to his footsteps receding, then turns his
face back to the sun. When he opens his eyes sees a figure
standing in the lawn.
It is Annie, plain as day, scowling at him angrily.
What? I am forestalled by Mr
Wallace. That is the simple fact
of it. What reason do you have to
She shoots him a look of hatred then turns away from him
and runs off towards the meadow.
Darwin, instantly remorseful, gets to his feet and hurries
He reaches the centre of the lawn and stopped by a sudden
intense pain in the gut which strikes him like a blow and
fells him to his knees.
He lies their gasping, his vision clouding as the pages of
the Wallace letter slip from his grasp and are scattered to
A view from high above: spiralling downwards on the Darwin
garden, as household servants emerge from various quarters
and hurry to his assistance.
103 INT. DARWIN’S BEDROOM. THE PRESENT. DAY. 103
There are some faint stains on the plasterwork of the
bedroom ceiling. Like lichen on a rock. Like an archipelago
Darwin lies, pale and weak, looking upwards from a sea of
The door opens and he turns his head. Its Emma.
You have a visitor.
No. No. I will not be bled or
She gives him a pinched look, then Hooker pushes in behind
It is me. Thank God you are still
with us. Word came from London
you had suffered an apoplectic
No. Simply the great relief of
liberation. Did you read the
Hooker bats the idea away
It is a letter. You have a book
…barely half of it
You have a book. What is not
already on the page is most
certainly inside your head and I
intend to extract it, if it kills
You have been talking to Huxley.
No. Had I done so he would have
hastened here himself armed with
every instrument of torture known
to her majesty’s navy.
Charles I have read the first
Chapters. It is brilliant. You
I cannot. Seriously Joseph, I am
completely blocked. All my old
symptoms have returned with a
vengeance. The sweats the shakes
the abdominal pains. The whole
endeavour was cursed from the
Hooker takes darwins hand, presses it to stop it from
Charles. It was you who opened my
eyes to the wonders of science.
So let me open yours. You have an
illness. You have had it as long
as I have known you.
It is clearly made worse in times
of overwork but the nature of the
work is irrelevant. This is not
visited on you by God or the
devil. This is a set of physical
symptoms. Go to Malvern and get
Why not. What is there to be
scared of there. He has worked
for you in the past it will work
again. Then come back and finish
the book. Your enemies are
already toasting their good
fortune but they shall not
What are you talking about. I
have no enemies.
They are legion, believe me, and
they are implacable. We are all
of us fighting a battle against
fear and superstition but we can
win this battle. We must win it.
You can win it for all of us. Go
to malvern, then come back and
104 INT. DOWN HOUSE. THE PAST. DAY. 104
Upstairs, Servants are packing for a journey.
The vigorous Darwin of the past moves swiftly from room to
room, gathering his things. Hat and gloves, books,
Emma, eight months pregnant, tries to keep up with him
Charles, please reconsider
Emma it is weeks now, months. She
is getting worse, not better.
Then I am coming with you.
You cannot come. How can you
possibly come in your condition.
It is not so far.
It is two days by coach and
train. Who will look after the
I do not care for the others. I
care for Annie!
Etty, coming apon then unexpectedly, hears this and is
EMMA is devastated by the slip but is presently too
overwrought to retract it.
Leave us please, Etty.
Parslow has gathered up Annie from her room and is carrying
her downstairs, pale and sickly-looking, with Brodie
Make sure she is tucked in. Watch
I don’t need to go.
At the bottom of the stairs, Darwin takes Annie from
The coach is outside. I will
carry her from here.
She clasps Emma’s hand. Darwin keeps heading for the door.
Emma holds fast to Annies hand and follows behind
You will see Mamma when you are
better. Say goodbye now.
Parslow holds the door open. The coach is at the Gate. Emma
stops on the threshold, unable to let go her daughters hand
and suddenly deeply convinced that she is making a mistake
Wait. I am coming with you
She hurries back inside. Darwin makes a decision and heads
for the coach.
105 EXT. DOWN HOUSE. DAY 105
Down the patch and through the open gate with the servants
Get aboard. Brodie
The garden gate clangs shut behind them.
106 INT. DOWN HOUSE STAIRWELL/ UPPER HALLWAY. THE PAST. DAY 106
Emma looks out of the upstairs window, realizes they plan
to leave without her and hurries downstairs again.
107 INT. COACH. THE PAST. DAY 107
Charles bundles Annie inside.
(to the coachman)
The coach sets off. Emma runs to the gate calling
Charles. Please God. No. Annie!
108 INT. COACH. THE PRESENT 108
Charles, feeble and debilitated, levers himself into the
coach with Parslow assisting and slumps back in the leather
Servants gather at the gate. Some of them tearful, not
expecting him to return
109 EXT. STEAM TRAIN. THE PRESENT. DAY. 109
A steam train comes charging past trailing plumes of black
smoke, striking sparks from the track with its wheels.
110 INT. CARRIAGE. THE PRESENT. DAY. 110
The sickly Darwin of the present sits hunched and nauseous,
with Parslow sitting beside him with his suitcase on his
Every jolt of the train sends a spasm of pain through
The people sitting opposite – a woman, a child, and a man –
regard Darwin in silence. Whatever he suffers from its not
good and they are worried about getting infected with it
They plunge into a tunnel. The carriage fills with smoke.
Parslow gets up and tries to close the window but it won’t
budge. A burning ember flies inside and lands on Darwin’s
Darwin is too weak to lift a finger. Parslow slaps the
ember and extinguishes it.
111 EXT. STATION. MALVERN. 111
The train wheezes to a halt. The doors open and the train
disgorges its cargo of sick people, come to Malvern for
treatment – a coughing child, a woman with one side of her
face aflame with shingles – the halt the lame and the
112 EXT. HORSE AND CART. DAY 112
Darwin sits in the back as the attendant drives them
Tell him not this way.
Hello there. Stop. Can we go by
the other route
The Worcester Road is shorter.
…by the low road.
He wishes to go by the other
(with a sigh)
As you will sir.
He backs up the horses and turns the cart around
113 INT. GULLY’S CLINIC. DAY 113
Dr Gully is the chief physician at Malvern spa. His marble-
tiled consulting rooms resound with the sound of rumbling
pipes and dripping water.
Darwin reclines on a leather couch, watching the watery
play of light on the ceiling.
A door opens and Dr Gully comes in, accompanied by two
Gully is a small dapper man wearing an apron over his shirt
and tie. His trousers are tucked into calf-length
He greets Darwin cheerfully, effusively.
Mr Darwin, old friend. Mr Darwin.
It has been too long I fear. Tut
tut tut tut tut. What have we now
what have we now?
He clasps Darwin’s hand, feeling his pulse at the wrist,
then commands him to open his mouth
Darwin shows him.
Ugh. Shirt up. Let me feel your
Darwin untucks his shirt. Gully prods at Darwin’s belly.
Pulse hectic, togue furred, liver
tender and enlarged.
Darwin’s ink stained fingers speak volumes.
No doubt you have been exercising
your brain every hour that God
I was persuaded to write book.
Madness there are far too many of
those already. Are you Sleeping?
I suppose never taking the 50C
dilution of Chelidonium.
(shakes his head)
I had the gardener build a water
tower. It no longer has any
Of course not. Your gardener is
not a hydrotherapist. What on
earth possessed you ?
I feared I was dying.
Oh come come come. We shall not
have that talk here.
Half turning to his assistant, who is staking notes.
A smart spinal scrub. Cold douche
daily at 7.00. Wrapping in towels
and sweating by the lamp.
Then, to Darwin:
No red meat, no reading, no
mental agitation of any kind. We
shall soon have you right old
friend, we shall have you right.
114 INT. TREATMENT ROOMS. DAY 114
Darwin sits in a deep metal bath while one of Gully’s
assistants scrubs his spine with a loofah.
115 INT. DOUCHE. DAY 115
Darwin stands in a shaft of light, grabbing onto the hand
rails as the icy flood continues to crash down on his
shoulders, splintering and fracturing in the shaft of
116 INT. TREATMENT ROOMS. DAY 116
Two assistants bind him tight in damp linen sheets, til he
is immobilised like a cocoon, with his legs together and
his hands by his side.
They pick him up and lie him down, quite rigid beside
another pod like creature, similarly swaddled, with a red
face and a beard.
Mr Darwin is it?
Darwin nods, unable to turn his head, or make any gesture
with his hands.
The stranger continues to talk to him nonetheless.
William Carter of Southampton. I
read your Beagle account many
years ago. Former naval man
myself. What brings you here?
Myself, a Bilious fever with
blood per rectum, but I have
every faith in Gully. The man is
a miracle worker.
117 INT. TREATMENT ROOM. DAY 117
Darwin sits with a blanket draped over his shoulders, under
the merciless glare of a heat lamp.
Sweat pours off him and forms puddles at his feet.
118 EXT. TERRACE. DAY. 118
A bright sunny day. Darwin, looking weak but purged, sits
on the terrace, sipping a glass of foul-tasting mineral
water and looking out over the stone houses, fields and
valleys of Malvern.
Gully sits with him, interviewing him.
What action do you most associate
with the symptoms. Eating? Strong
emotion? Strenuous Excercise?
Does the exercise of memory count
as an action.
Memory of what.
My eldest daughter. You remember
Of course. Of course. You must
accept there was nothing more we
I know that. I know.
A long, awkward silence, neither of them wants to
recapitulate the events of Annies death.
You say you were writing about
No. It is a scientific text. But
I had reached a point, beyond
which it was impossible to
progress. She had been my
companion throughout. Now it
seemed she was ahead of me in a
place I could not follow.
Of course. Plainly she is in
That is what my wife believes. It
is a great consolation to her
But not to you.
Emma and I have become …divided
Does it affect your marital
We have none …to speak of.
Are you familiar with the
writings of DeQuincy.”There is no
such thing known to the mind as
I don’t know what it means.
He suggests we have thoughts
which do not actually enter the
realm of consciousness. Nervous
fibres exist after all throughout
the whole body. Is it not
possible that certain primal
feelings manifest in some
physical way. Eczema. Boils. A
fever. Might some blocked passion
imitate a gall-stone? Or even
Well, until someone devises a
machine to read nervous impulses,
or a telescope to look inside
the body I suppose we can only
guess at it.
We can Mr Darwin. We can look
inside you. If you find yourself
open to it, there is a way of
119 EXT. STREETS OF MALVERN. NIGHT 119
Darwin wanders the cobbled streets of Malvern, pausing
occasionally to consult a hand-written address.
It is starting to rain as, finally, he arrives at the
address he is looking for. A substantial terraced house.
Darwin descends a stone staircase to the imposing front
door, and rings the bell.
As he waits for an answer a woman appears, unseen in the
rain streaked window above, observing him.
Darwin rings again. A moment later the woman answers the
Mrs St John?
MRS ST JOHN
Mr Darwin. Come in.
120 INT. MRS ST JOHN HOUSE. NIGHT 120
The room is large and hot, crowded with pot plants, and
bric- a-brac. Various fringed lamp-shades, a dancing Shiva,
a framed picture of Lourdes, and some illustrations from
the Tarot. None of this inspires Darwin with confidence.
Just leave your coat on the
table. Sit down here. Show me
The husky voice and the plunging decollete troubles Darwin,
Sorry. I’m confused. What is it
you do exactly.
MRS ST JOHN
I envision what’s inside your
belly, dear. That’s what you
wanted, isn’t it.
Envision how? When Gully
described you I fancied some
MRS ST JOHN
Depends what you class an
instrument. In more resistant
cases I might use a pendulum…
He frowns. She smiles.
MRS ST JOHN
Its ten shillings for a reading
by the way. In advance.
Well. I have a ten shilling note
here in my wallet.
He doesn’t take it out.
If you can tell me the numbers on
it we can begin.
Mr St John’ face hardens.
MRS ST JOHN
I’m a professional lady Mr
Darwin. I don’t do party tricks.
I am a professional man. And I
asking for no more than I ask of
all my colleagues – a
demonstration of competence.
MRS ST JOHN
It is you who are here to be
tested, Sir, not me.
Then I am sorry to have wasted
He puts his jacket back on and heads for the door.
121 INT. HALLWAY. NIGHT. 121
Mrs St John follows him. As he reaches for the doorhandle,
and opens it, she says:
MRS ST JOHN
She’s with you, you know that.
MRS ST JOHN
Your little girl. I saw her from
the window standing at the top of
How dare you.
MRS ST JOHN
…prey on people’s grief like
MRS ST JOHN
I have done no such thing.
Do you take me for an idiot?
Clearly Gully has appraised you
of my history.
MRS ST JOHN
I beg to inform you he did no
It is chicanery of the very
lowest order and I despise it
MRS ST JOHN
122 EXT. THE HOUSE. DAY 122
Darwin steps outside and she slams the door on him. Darwin
continues to rant at the closed door, standing in the
pouring rain without his umbrella.
He gets to the top of the steps, and looks around, trying
to get his bearings.
In a pool of lamp-light at the far end of the street a
figure stands watching him.
Darwin squints at her through the rain, which is falling
The figure is Annie.
She looks at him crossly, then heads off up a cobbled side-
123 EXT. MALVERN. SIDE STREETS. VARIOUS. NIGHT 123
Darwin pursues his daughter up narrow cobbled lanes.
The rain is getting heavier, turning the gutters into
Water overflows the drains and culverts and rushes over the
cobbles, making them slick and treacherous.
Darwin hurries down darkened lanes and alleys, the sound of
rushing water echoing all around, the little girl always
ahead of him.
A DRUNK MAN in oilskins comes barreling past him, head
down, cursing the weather.
A child’s ball goes floating downhill in the current.
Darwin loses Annie, then he sees her again, at the top of a
steep flight of stone steps.
Darwin, drenched chases after her.
124 EXT. WORCESTER ROAD. NIGHT. 124
At the top of the steps he stops for breath and he looks
There is no sign of Annie but he knows this street – The
Worcester Road – a row of Grey Georgian houses, their backs
against the hill, their sloping front gardens looking out
over the rooftops of Malvern.
Most of the street is in darkness but the house directly
opposite has lights in the window.
He knows this house also.
He hesitates, then crosses the street towards it.
125 EXT. GUEST HOUSE. NIGHT 125
Soaked to the skin, he raps with the brass door-knocker,
then waits for someone to answer.
Muffled voices. Then a man answers from within.
Is Mrs Carey still the landlady
The door opens on a chain.
My daughter Annie …lodged here
some years ago. Can I come in?
The man closes the door to release the chain, then opens it
again to admit Darwin.
I know this is an intrusion. I
wonder – could I visit the room
she stayed in?
The landlord doesn’t know what to make of this
Wait here. I’ll get the missus.
He leaves Darwin dripping in the hallway which he goes and
consults with his wife in the lighted parlour.
Darwin looks around. This place is all too familiar to him –
the bevelled gold-rimmed mirror, the carved mock-Tudor coat-
Muffled conversation off.
There are crutches and walking sticks among the umbrellas.
Lavender potpourri in a brass dish. A wheel-chair in one
corner, a picture of the pieta above the door.
Finally, the land-lady emerges from her parlour.
Fourteen. I would only be there
ten minutes. I am happy to pay.
She goes into an alcove and emerges with a key.
Up one flight and along the
corridor to the right.
Try not to touch anything.
126 INT. GUESTHOUSE. THE PRESENT. NIGHT. 126
Darwin, climbs the stairs to the Landing.
127 INT. GUESTHOUSE. THE PAST DAY 127
The younger Darwin flees up the stairs.
128 INT. GUESTHOUSE. THE PRESENT. NIGHT. 128
The older Darwin, reaches the top of the stairs and walks
along the corridor to the right.
129 INT. GUESTHOUSE. THE PAST DAY 129
The younger Darwin, races along the corridor.
130 INT. GUESTHOUSE. THE PRESENT NIGHT. 130
The older Darwin, hesitates, chest pounding, outside the
door of number 14, then unlocks it as…
131 INT. GUESTHOUSE. THE PAST. DAY 131
The younger Darwin bursts into room 14 and takes in the
The room is full if light. A maid is bundling soiled
sheets. Brodie is there with a harrassed-looking Dr Gully.
They turn as he enters.
Annie lies on the bed between them, her breathing fast and
shallow. She manages a weak smile.
Is she any better? Does she want
Gully stands up from the bed. His expression tells us hope
is fading. Annie’s pale sunken cheeks and caked lips
Darwin kneels by her bedside, clasps her little hand is his
Darling Annie. I am here now.
Annie lets out a reedy whine of appreciation and strokes
his lapel “making him beautiful”
Brodie cannot bear it and bursts into tears.
132 INT. ROOM 14. THE PAST NIGHT. 132
Darwin sits up, writing to Emma, crying as he writes.
Dearest Emma. I think it best for
you to know how every hour
passes. It’s a relief for me to
tell you. Whilst writing to you I
can cry tranquilly.
133 INT. ROOM 14. THE PAST DAY. 133
A local surgeon lays out various instruments, including a
glass syringe with a long needle.
Annie struggles and whimpers. Brodie comforts her
Mr Coates the Surgeon came today
to draw off Annie’s water. This
did not hurt her, but she
struggled with surprising
strength against being uncovered.
There there. It will all soon be
134 EXT. CHURCH AT MALVERN. ENTRANCE. DAY 134
Darwin enters through the heavy stone entrance.
135 INT. THE CHURCH AT MALVERN. DAY 135
The relatives of the sick, stand or sit among the pews,
arriving, praying, departing
Darwin kneels awkwardly in front of the altar, clasps his
hands together and prays:
Save her. I will believe
whatever. Forever. Please save
He looks up at the image of Christ on the cross, hoping
against all reason, for some sense of epiphany.
It’s not working. He feels nothing embarrassment at the
cheapness of the gesture.
136 INT GUEST HOUSE. ROOM 14. THE PAST .NIGHT 136
Darwin sits alone with Annie who is babbling incoherently.
He can’t make out anything she says
Our dear child has taken a turn
for the worse. She talked a great
deal but we could seldom make out
anything. Much of what she says
we cannot make out from the
roughness of her poor mouth.
137 INT. GUEST HOUSE. ROOM 14 NIGHT 137
Dr Gully leaves, the surgeon arrives. The maids squeeze
between the two medical men, bundling sheets
Today she vomited rather much
again. Dr Coates has been to draw
off more water.
Brodie and the maid roll Annie on her side and cut off the
tail of her shirt, then roll her on her back again, with a
pillow between her two bony knees.
Is that good, my lovely
Beautifully good. I am making
Gully thinks her in imminent
138 INT. DOWN HOUSE. DAY. 138
Heavily pregnant Emma sits in the drawing room, crying and
reading Darwin’s latest letter.
We sponged her with water and
vinegar, made her sweet with
chloride of lime….I fear we
must prepare ourselves for the
139 INT. ANNIE’S ROOM. GUEST HOUSE. DAY. 139
It is midnight Darwin, exhausted, keeps a lonely Vigil by
Annie’s bedside. Each breath seems like it will be her
Suddenly she speaks: faintly but audibly:
The rabbit taught him the polka.
I don’t understand my love.
Tell me about Jenny.
Darwin bends low to hear her more clearly.
What about her.
When she died
I don’t want to talk about death
But tell me. I like it.
Well. What the keeper told me
was. When she was very sick with
pneumonia, lying very still, he
tried to feed her but she shook
her head, looking at him as
though to say: “Its nice of you
but really you shouldn’t bother”.
And as he bent down to take the
spoon away she brought her arms
around his neck and kissed him.
And then she was dead.
Annie smiles, puts her hands around her fathers neck and
140 INT. TRAIN THE PAST DAY 140
Darwin sits, his face wet with tears, reading, through
blurred vision, a letter from Emma.
I was in the garden looking at
our poor darling’s little flower
bed when John Griffiths drove up
with your letter.
141 INT. DARWIN’S BEDROOM. NIGHT 141
Emma goes to bed, utterly drained.
When I went to bed I felt as if
it had all happened long ago.
When the blow comes it wipes out
all that preceded it.
142 INT. DARWIN’S BEDROOM. DAY. 142
She opens the curtains on a bright day. The other children
are playing in the garden
My feeling of longing for our
lost treasure makes me feel
painfully indifferent to the
other children, but I shall get
right before long.
143 INT. TRAIN CARRIAGE. THE PRESENT. DAY 143
Darwin sits in the train, Heading home from malvern.
He is looking across the carriage at his younger self, re-
reading the letter and weeping uncontrollably.
144 EXT DOWN HOUSE. LOUNGE. THE PRESENT. NIGHT 144
Torrential rain crashes down on the house, the garden, the
ancient trees and the outbuildings, flooding the path and
the lane beyond the gate.
Darwin pays the coachman and hurries inside
145 INT. DOWN HOUSE. LOUNGE ROOM. 145
Emma is playing a beautiful slow Nocturne.
The rain outside drown out all other side.
She doesn’t notice the figure of Darwin until he appears,
like a ghost, reflected in the polished wood of the piano.
She turns with a start and sees him, still in his dripping
coat, hair plastered over his brow
Sorry. I startled you.
Take your coat off by the fire
there. What time is it?
Darwin stays where he is, dripping on the carpet
We need to talk. I need to talk
Of course, but dry your hair. I
shall call for a towel.
As she moves to the bell-pull he grabs her wrist
I went back to Worcester Road. I
Let me tell you.
I don’t want to hear it. This
You don’t understand.
I do! Do you think me deaf and
blind. You have lived with her
and spoken with her every day
since she died.
Parslow comes in with firewood then sees Emma yelling at
darwin and hurriedly retreats, spilling logs in the
She is more real to you than I
am. She’s dead Charles.
I know that.
Then what is wrong with you that
even our poor daughter cannot be
left in her grave but you
I know she is dead. I know it. It
is you who will not accept the
fact, preferring to think of her
This again! The unspoken argument which has been brewing
for a decade, never before expressed so bluntly. Emma heads
for the door
Get away from me!
She heads into the hallway, he follows her ranting
Snowy white wings and dancing
with the angels. Is that your
idea of honesty.
Servants scramble out of sight and out of earshot
Why did you come back. I will not
Emma picks up her skirts and hurries up the stairs. Darwin
On the landing, Betty and Horace, wide eyed and terrified
are bundled into the nursery by Brodie as Charles thunders
up the stair.
You have to Emma, everything
these was between us is gone.
The boat is wrecked and sunk now.
We have to hold to something
To what. Your ghosts? Your
theories? What Charles.
To the truth of what we know it.
She slams the bedroom door on him and bolts it.
Open this door Emma. The truth,
how wonderful and extraordinary
our daughter was….
(through the door)
I know that. I do not need you to
say it. Of course I know.
Charles throws his shoulder to the door and bursts through
it. Emma screams
But free of the fantasy, free of
the rest, the silly vain hope
that we will be reunited in
heaven and the nagging unspoken
belief that I killed her!
In the lower hallway all the servants hear this
In the nursery, Brodie, aghast, covers the childrens ears
In the bedroom, Emma has nowhere left to run
I have never said that
Say it now. Say it. And all the
rest that follows. That I should
have kept Annie warm that day on
the beach. I should not have
taken her to Malvern. I should
have let you come.
Tears spring to her eyes and to his. The fury has gone from
both of them, leaving sadness and pity
I should have insisted.
No. It was me. I took her from
you It was my fault.
I could have followed. I was her
mother what was I thinking of.
We thought she would live. You
were not to know.
He moves to her, she startles, then lets him enfold her in
his damp coat
I did. I did know. I knew when
you left that I would never see
her again. I hated you for taking
I hated myself. I knew that none
of them could save her.
All I could do was watch
hopelessly and weep for her –
then flee the place in terror,
not even waiting to see our poor
dear daughter buried. She was our
treasure and I failed her. We
both did. We should never have
married each other.
What are you saying?
The unspeakable . I am saying
that you and I, in making our
perfect child, endowed her with
the very weakness which killed
her. Emma. That is what I
couldn’t write. That is what
forestalled me all these years.
It wasn’t you I was angry with,
it wasn’t Innes and it wasn’t
God. I was angry with my theory.
It was the truth I was angry
with. It is the truth.
Weeping, she shakes her head in furious denial. He kisses
her hair, her eyes, her tear-streaked cheeks…
146 INT/ EXT BEDROOM, THE PRESENT. NIGHT 146
Rain continues to batter the house outside
Inside Darwin and Emma make love, with a kind of wild
desperation, their clothes strewn all over the floor,
clinging to each other like castaways in a storm.
147 INT OFFICE. THE PRESENT. DAY 147
Darwin enters his office. The chaos that existed here
previously has been tidied away into files and boxes.
Darwin opens the black box, takes out the files, places
them on his desk, then sits down and begins to write
148 INT. STUDY. NIGHT. 148
Darwin sits at his desk. Writing. He is possessed of a new
sense of calm and purpose, the pen gliding fluently across
Night turns to day and then to night again. Darwin
completes the Chapter headed “variation under
domestication” and begins on a fresh sheet of paper.
149 EXT. THE GARDEN. DOWN HOUSE. THE PRESENT. DAY 149
Crocuses are pushing up through the flower beds. Tiny green
buds have started to emerge from the dead black branches
150 INT. DARWIN’S STUDY. DOWN HOUSE. THE PRESENT. DAY 150
Still Darwin writes
Tell me a story.
I’m busy Annie.
I’ll go away again, then you’ll
All right, come here, come here.
She comes and sits on his lap.
Once there was a man
Who, while travelling in South
America, came apon a beautiful
and dangerous idea.
151 INT. SOUTH AMERICAN JUNGLES. DAY 151
Darwin is in the south American jungle, trying to coax down
from the trees, some small squeaking creature – a tousled
looking abandoned chick.
Here, here. Come on, come on then
The creature draws closer, eyes like gimlets in the dark
…I wont hurt you.
He reaches into the dark recesses of the forest. Darwin
grabs it and stuffs it, squawking into his collecting bag.
152 INT. DARWIN’S STUDY NIGHT 152
Darwin comes in, empties the bag into a black box with
perforations and closes the lid
He knew his wife wouldn’t care
for this creature so when he came
home he locked it in a box, where
it couldn’t run around and do any
153 INT. DARWIN’S STUDY. DAY 153
Darwin works at his desk. There’s a plaintive cooing sound
coming from the box next to his feet.
But every so often he’d open the
lid and feed it, just because he
couldn’t bear to let it die.
Finally he opens the lid and offers the creature a biscuit.
It has grown a bit larger and made itself a nest. It takes
the biscuit and peeps gratefully.
154 INT. DOWN HOUSE. DAY 154
Darwin goes to the box and opens it. There’s nothing there
but an empty nest and some broken eggshells.
One day he opened the box and
discovered it wasn’t in there at
all. It had escaped with all its
babies, who were nesting all over
the house making a terrible mess.
155 INT. DOWN HOUSE. DAY. VARIOUS 155
The Darwin’s, their children and their servants run around
the house finding birds everywhere.
There is bird-shit on the curtains and the antimacassars,
birds nesting in the sewing basket, the bread bin and the
Every time you open a cupboard, angry birds fly out and
flap angrily around the room.
Mayhem. The house is in uproar.
But finally they caught them all,
and bundled them in a blanket and
he asked his wife to dispose of
them as she saw fit.
156 INT. STUDY. CONTUNUOUS 156
Annie listens entranced. Darwin pauses
And what did she do?
I don’t know but I fancy she took
them out in the garden and set
157 EXT. DOWN HOUSE. GARDEN DAY. 157
Emma and Brodie come out carrying a huge white linen bag
They shake it out in the garden and birds come pouring out
High shot, looking down on EMMA as she watches the birds
wheeling round and round in the sky above.
158 INT. DARWIN’S STUDY. DAY 158
Darwin sits in his study window, watching a great flock of
birds wheeling in the sky outside, the whole flock forming
an ever-changing shape from the movement of its tiny
159 INT DARWIN’S STUDY. NIGHT 159
Darwin puts down his pen, waking, as if from a dream.
The manuscript is finished.
The music of Chopin filters up from downstairs.
160 INT. DRAWING ROOM. DAY 160
Emma is playing by candle-light. Darwin places the
manuscript on top of the piano.
She stops abruptly. The last chord resonates in the musky
Done. I have finally got it out
of the air and into these pages.
Will you read it and decide what
must be done with it. I confess I
no longer know and I am very
She takes his hand and squeezes it.
161 INT. DOWN HOUSE. BEDROOM. 161
162 INT. DOWN HOUSE DINING ROOM 162
Emma sits at the table and begins to read.
163 INT. DOWN HOUSE. BATHROOM 163
Darwin gets out of the bath and towels himself dry.
164 INT. DOWN HOUSE. DINING ROOM 164
Emma lights a candle from the one before and continues to
165 INT. DOWN HOUSE. BEDROOM. NIGHT. 165
Charles lowers himself into the bed, sleep washes over him
like a wave.
166 INT. DOWN HOUSE. DINING ROOM. NIGHT. 166
Still Emma reads.
Thus, from the war of nature,
from famine and death, the most
exalted objects we can conceive
directly follow. There is a
grandeur in this view of life
…in which endless forms most
beautiful and wonderful have been
and are being evolved.
Outside the sky is growing lighter.
167 INT. DOWN HOUSE. BEDROOM. DAY. 167
He opens the curtains on a clear autumn day. The house is
168 INT. DOWN HOUSE. TOP OF THE STAIRS. DAY. 168
The grandfather clock on the landing strikes mid-day.
Darwin goes downstairs.
169 INT. DRAWING ROOM. DAY. 169
He enters the drawing room. There is no sign of Emma nor of
He goes to the window and sees her at the bottom of the
garden standing over a bonfire, burning something.
170 EXT. GARDEN. DOWN HOUSE. DAY. 170
Darwin goes outside.
She looks up from the fire. Darwin crosses the lawn to her.
She’s burning leaves and dead-heads from the flower garden.
Did you read it?
I wrapped it and put it on the
There’s a brown paper parcel on the garden table where they
like to sit under the big Cyprus tree.
Darwin picks it up, it is addressed to John Murray,
Publisher, stamped and sealed with sealing wax.
You’re right. True or not it must
all be said. Probably most of it
is true. God help us.
Darwin kisses her.
Careful. I have soot all over my
171 EXT. BOTTOM OF THE DRIVE. 171
Darwin stands with the brown paper package, turning it over
in his hands.
Dear Hooker, I have today
despatched to John Murray the
completed manuscript. Who knows
if anyone will buy it and how
they will respond. No doubt many
will wish al diabolo altogether.
But least it is out in the world
now and no longer torturing me.
John Griffiths, the postman, comes up the hill from the
Darwin gives him the manuscript. The Postman puts it in his
satchel and heads on up the lane.
Darwin turns back and walks up towards the house.
As he does so a little figure, Annie takes his hand, and
together they continue on home, Annie skipping happily by
her father’s side.
172 POST-SCRIPT. 172
Darwin’s “Origin of Species” was sold out on its day of
A classic to this day, it was reprinted six times before
his death; and his burial, with full Christian honours, in
THE END[amazonjs asin=”B002T5QM4C” locale=”JP” title=”Creation DVD”]