Darwin, Charles Robert 1809-1882

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Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, the grandson of Erasmus Darwin. His mother was a daughter of Josiah Wedgewood of the famous firm making distinguished china.

Darwin was educated at Shrewsbury school under Samuel Butler and in 1825 he entered Endinburgh University to prepare for the medical profession. In 1828 he entered Cambridge University in the hope of becoming a clergyman. He took his degree in 1831.

From December 1831 to October 1836 he sailed in H.M.S. "Beagle" as a naturalist. He visited many places including the Atlantic islands, South American Coast, Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand and other islands. He also visited Brazil.

In 1839 he married his cousin and moved in 1842 to Kent which was his home the rest of his life. In 1856 he started to write an explanation of his views but in June 1858 he received a manuscript from Alfred Henry Wallace in which he found a complete abstract of his own theory of natural selection. Wallace's essay and an abstract of Darwin's work was sent to the Linnean Society. The title of the joint communication was "On the Tendency of Species to Form Varieties: and on the Presentation of Varieties and Species by Natural Selection," (July 1, 1858).

He published his great work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection on the Presentation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life in 1859.

The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication was published in 1868. Other publications included:

The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)
On the Various Controversies by which British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilized by Insects (1862)
The Effects of Cross and Self-Fertilization in the Vegetable Kingdom (1876)
The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species (1877)
The Power of Movement in Plants (1880)
The Formation of Vegetable Moved Through the Action of Worms (1881)

As a result of his many observations of plants and animals he concluded that "favorable variations would tend to be preserved and unfavorable ones to be destroyed. The result of this would be the formation of a new species." Since Darwin presented a scientifically sound explanation of how evolution took place "few from miraculous intervention or unfounded favory he succeeded where Lamarck had failed in making the fact of evolution acceptable" (Encyclopedia Brittanica).

Darwin Library Collection

Source: http://www.sc.edu/library/spcoll/rarebook.html

Charles Darwin biography

Source: http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/people/enlightenment.html