Randal Keynes

Randal Hume Keynes, OBE, FLS (/ˈknz/ KAYNZ; born 29 July 1948)[2] is a British conservationist, author, and great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin.

Randal Keynes
Keynes in 2009
BornRandal Hume Keynes
(1948-07-29) 29 July 1948
Cambridge, England, UK[1]
OccupationConservationist, author
EducationMarlborough College
Alma materNew College, Oxford
SpouseZelfa Hourani
Children2, Soumaya Keynes and Skandar Keynes
RelativesKeynes family, Richard Keynes (father)
Charles Darwin (great-great-grandfather)

Family background

Keynes was born in Cambridge, England. He is the son of the Hon. Anne Pinsent (née Adrian) and physiologist Richard Keynes.[2] His maternal grandparents were Hester Adrian, Baroness Adrian, mental health worker, and Edgar Adrian, 1st Baron Adrian OM PRS, electrophysiologist and recipient of the 1932 Nobel Prize for Physiology. His paternal grandfather was the surgeon Geoffrey Keynes, brother to the economist John Maynard Keynes. Randal Keynes is the brother of two Cambridge professors, Simon (historian) and Roger (medical scientist).

Randal Keynes has two children with Zelfa Cecil Hourani, also from a prominent intellectual family, originally from Lebanon. Zelfa's father Cecil was an advisor to the late Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba and his two brothers were Albert, a major historian of the Middle East, and George, philosopher, historian, and classicist. Randal and Zelfa's son, Skandar Keynes (born 1991), is an actor best known for his role as Edmund Pevensie in the Narnia films. They also have a daughter, Soumaya Keynes (born 1989), who has appeared in various productions for BBC Radio 4.

Life and career

Keynes was educated at Marlborough College and New College Oxford. He is a distinguished supporter of Humanists UK.[3]

He campaigned successfully against the redevelopment of King's Cross station and for the preservation of the Caledonian Road neighbourhood in central London. He recalls one of the turning points as his persuasion of two members of the House of Lords to ask the government to guarantee the funding of the project; when the ministers declined to, the bill fell.[4]

The Darwin connection

Keynes is the author of the intimate exploration of his famous ancestry, Annie's Box, subtitled Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution (2001), a book about the relationship between Darwin and his daughter Annie, whose early death deeply affected him.[5] The 2009 film Creation is based on this book.

He has taken a leading role in the campaign to have Down House, Darwin's former home, designated a World Heritage Site.[6]

He was the author of two Oxford Dictionary of National Biography articles on Anne Darwin and William Erasmus Darwin[7] in 2005.


See also


  1. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVQT-PVJT
  2. "Person Page". www.thepeerage.com.
  3. "Distinguished Supporters". British Humanist Association. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
  4. The Secret History of Our Streets, a 2012 BBC and Open University co-production, both a series of six hour-long television programmes (in which he is interviewed in episode 2, "Caledonian Road") and also a book.
  5. Turney, Jon (2002-06-08). "Darwin's lost daughter". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  6. Boxer, Sarah (2005-11-18). "An Image of Darwin, Carrying on His Work". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  7. Keynes, Randal (2004). "Darwin, William Erasmus (1839–1914)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/94741.
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