These biographical sketches of over 900 individuals trace the descendants of an obscure inn keeper in Marlow in the early 17th century over ten generations. Five years of painstaking research have produced a work of original scholarship. It includes characters as diverse as the novelist Fay Weldon and General Sir Edmund Allenby, who liberated Palestine and supported Lawrence of Arabia. Close links are shown with the naturalist Gilbert White of Selborne, whom Darwin acknowledged as a major influence. The main surnames covered are Cane, Dodwell, Chapman and Jepson; but over 50 descendant lines are traced worldwide. Amongst the many deaths identified are one in the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, a death in a Swiss avalanche and a drowning while trying to cross a river in Australia. Two cases of long-forgotten suicide are unearthed, amidst other tragedies. The title of the book is taken from the final words of George Eliot's Middlemarch. She grew up on the estate of the Newdigate family in Warwickshire and they feature briefly in these sketches.