Charles Darwin 1809-1882    Charles Darwin

     Charles Robert Darwin was born into a rich family in England in 1809. His father, Robert Waring Darwin, was a physician. His grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, was also a physician, but wrote poetical inquiries into science, including speculations about evolution.
     As Darwin grew up and went to college, he had no formal training in science. But he spent a lot of time out in the woods hunting, and collecting specimens of plants and animals, and attending lectures of science classes at Cambridge in which he was not enrolled.
    Darwin's life-changing experience was to accompany Captain Robert FitzRoy on H.M.S. Beagle as it sailed around the world. This time, he did not merely collect specimens but began noticing patterns of distribution and of fossils. He returned to England, inherited a fortune, and spent his life without employment, which was fortunate because he was ill throughout his life. He thought about what he had seen on his voyage around the world, and as early as 1837 had formulated an essentially modern version of evolutionary theory. He spent the next twenty-two years refining the theory and gathering evidence for it. He did not want to publish his theory until he had all of the evidence. He published the Origin of Species in 1859 only because a younger naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, was ready to publish the same theory immediately after having thought of it independently of Darwin.
     Darwin continued to write books throughout his life, on many topics that helped to illustrate how evolution worked and the slow but sure processes of nature. He wrote books about orchid pollination, the way plants grew, and how earthworms transformed entire landscapes.
     He was encouraged and supported by his wife Emma, even though she did not accept evolution. Without Emma's help, Charles Darwin would probably never have completed any of his important works.

Stan's Darwin Blog

Evolution Photos
the author with a Galapagos tortoise who was alive during Darwin's lifetime
the author with a Galapagos tortoise who was alive during Darwin's lifetime

Darwin fiction by Stanley Rice:

    Liberation (how Darwin met the ghost of Abraham Lincoln)