Charles Darwin


Darwin visited Tenerife, Brazil, Montevideo, Tierra del Fuego, Buenos Aires, Chile, the Galapagos, Tahiti, New Zealand and Tasmania. On his return to England, Darwin lived first in Cambridge and then in London. He prepared his reports on the voyage and was preparing his theory of evolution. On January 29, 1839, he married his cousin Emma Wedgwood and left for London almost immediately after the ceremony, upsetting guests. They had 10 children (2 died in infancy).

During voyage Darwin was impressed by the discovery of fossil animals and in the manner in which closely allied animals replace one another in proceeding southward over the continent and by the South American character of most of the populations of the Galapagos Archipelago and by the manner they differ slightly on each island group. It was evident that such facts could only be explained on the supposition that species gradually become modified.

In Oct. 1838, Darwin happened to read Malthus’ paper, “The principle of population” and it at once struck him that under the situation of struggle, favorable variations would tend to be preserved and unfavorable ones would be destroyed; the result of this would be formation of new species. In early 1856, on Lyell’s advice Darwin started writing his views fully on ‘species problem’ but Darwin was aware that going against the church and holding unorthodox views were perilous and blasphemous, for which he could be punished by the church.

In the summer of 1858, Alfred Russell Wallace, who was then working on zoogeography in Malaya Archipelago, sent him as essay, “On the tendency of varieties to depart indefinitely from the original type”, with a note that if he thought well of the essay, he should send it to Lyell for perusal. This essay contained exactly the same theory as Darwin was working on.

At the request of Charles Lyell and Joseph Hooker, an abstract of Darwin’s manuscript and Wallace’s essay were sent to Asa Gray, to be presented before the Linnaean Society and for publication in the society’s journal later. Neither of the authors was present during presentation. The title of the joint paper was as follows: “On the tendency of species to form varieties and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural selection”. Within a year in 1859, Darwin published his book, “The origin of species by means of natural selection”, which made him a celebrity overnight. “The descent of Man” was published in Feb. 1871 and brought him extensive criticisms. He was a prolific writer and published many books and research papers (see list below).

Charles Darwin died on April 19, 1882 from what is now believed to be chagas disease contracted while on board the Beagle. What made Darwin great was his belief, “A man who dares to waste an hour of life has not discovered the value of life.” 

Important publications by Charles Darwin

1. 1839. Narrative of the surveying voyages of Her Majesty’s Ships ‘Adventure’ and ‘Beagle’ between the year 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagle’s circumnavigation of the globe.

2. 1840. Zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle (Edited by Charles Darwin).

3. 1842. The structure and distribution of coral reefs.

4. 1844. Geological observations on the volcanic islands visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle.

5. 1845. Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy.

6. 1846. Geological observations of South America.

7. 1851. A monograph of the fossil Lapadidae; or pedunculated cirripedes of Great Britain. 

8. 1851. A monograph of the subclass Cirripedia with figures of all the species.

9. 1854. A monograph of the fossil Balanidae and Verrucidae of Great Britain.

10. 1859. The origin of species by means of natural selection, or preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.

11. 1862. On the various contrivances by which orchids are fertilized by insects.

12. 1868. The variation of animals and plants under domestication.

13. 1871. The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex.

14. 1872. The expression of the emotions in man and animals.

15.1875. The movements and habits of climbing plants.

16. 1876. Geological observations on the volcanic islands and parts of South America visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle.

17. 1876. The effects of cross and self-fertilization in the vegetable kingdom.

18. 1877. The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species.

19. 1880. The power of movement in plants.

20. 1881. The formation of vegetable mould, through the action of worms, with observations on their habits.

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