Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Calpurnia Tate


Author: Jacqueline Kelly

The year is 1899, the place Texas, and the problem is 11-year-old Calpurnia Virginia Tate, who is supposed to want to cook, sew and attract a future beau -- not play in the dirt, examine insects and, most suspect of all, read Darwin’s controversial On The Origin of Species. 

Sometimes it feels like the only person who even comes close to understanding Calpurnia is her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist who studies everything from distilling whisky out of pecans to microscopic river bugs. Everyone sees Granddaddy as just a crazy old man, and everyone sees Calpurnia as nothing but an overly stubborn, willful, "unladylike" wild child. 

As Calpurnia and her Granddaddy spend more and more time together, exploring the wonders of the natural world around them and conducting experiments side by side, Calpurnia begins to see that her passion for knowledge, her inquisitive nature, and her drive are more than just things keeping her from being a "proper lady." They're a part of her, important parts of her, all of which make her someone special. Whoever her family is, that's who they are: but Calpurnia can still be herself, and have her own life - even if it means pushing against the boundaries of being a girl at the turn of the century.