Darwin, Charles, 1809-1882

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1809-02-12
Death 1882-04-19
GB
English

Biographical notes:

Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. His father, Robert Waring Darwin (1766-1848), was a physician, the son of Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), a poet, philosopher, and naturalist. Robert established a successful medical practice in Shrewsbury where he was known for his kindness extended to the poor. He was financially quite successful and willing to support his sons in their various endeavors. Although not a prolific writer, he was elected to the Royal Society in 1788. Charles' mother, Susannah Wedgwood Darwin (1765-1817), was the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood, one of the founders of the Wedgwood pottery works and a supporter of the movement to abolish slavery in the British Empire. She died when Charles Darwin was eight years old. At age sixteen, Darwin left Shrewsbury to study medicine at Edinburgh University. Repelled by the sight of surgery performed without anesthesia, he eventually went to Cambridge University to prepare to become a clergyman in the Church of England. After receiving his degree, Darwin accepted an invitation to serve as an unpaid naturalist on the H.M.S. Beagle, which departed on a five-year scientific expedition to the Pacific coast of South America on December 31, 1831. Darwin's research resulting from this voyage formed the basis of his famous book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Published in 1859, the work aroused a storm of controversy. Here Darwin outlined his theory of evolution, challenging the contemporary beliefs about the creation of life on earth. Later works included The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), and many others. Darwin continued to write and publish his works on biology throughout his life. He lived with his wife and eight children at their home in the village of Downe, fifteen miles from London. Several of his children achieved great distinction of their own: George Howard Darwin (1845-1912), as a geologist and astronomer, Francis Darwin (1848-1925), as a botanist, and Leonard Darwin (1850-1943), as an economist. Charles Darwin died after a long illness on April 19, 1882, and is buried in Westminster Abbey.

From the description of Charles Darwin / Evolution Collection ca. 1786-1968 [bulk dates 1840s-1920s] (University of California, Santa Barbara). WorldCat record id: 222373923

Charles Robert Darwin was a British naturalist and author of On the Origin of Species (1859).

From the guide to the Charles Darwin papers, 1831-1882, 1831-1882, (American Philosophical Society)

Sir Joseph Banks was an English naturalist and president of the Royal Society.

From the guide to the Sir Joseph Banks papers, 1766-1820 (bulk), 1766-1820, (American Philosophical Society)

The project to publish the complete correspondence of the British naturalist Charles Darwin began in 1974 under the editorial guidance of Frederick Burkhardt with the assistance of Sydney Smith. Drawing heavily on the 9,000 letters located at Cambridge University and 950 at the American Philosophical Society, the project has made efforts to locate, transcribe, and publish every known letter written by Darwin. Over 200 institutions in 20 countries have contributed to the project, yielding a total of 15,000 letters. When the project is complete, the editors estimate that the Correspondence of Charles Darwin will fill approximately 30 volumes.

From the guide to the Charles Darwin Papers Editorial Project Collection, 1821-1882, (American Philosophical Society)

English naturalist and biologist.

From the description of Papers, [1868?]-1881 and undated, Kent. (Duke University). WorldCat record id: 35007279

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was a British naturalist.

From the guide to the Charles Darwin letters, ca. 1865-1882, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

From the description of Charles Darwin letters, ca. 1865-1882. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122378691

Charles Robert Darwin was a British naturalist and author of "On the Origin of the Species" (1859).

From the description of Archive of the Darwin Papers Editorial Project, 1821-1882. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122439822

Charles Darwin was born in 1809 in England. His father, Robert Darwin, was a physician, the son of Erasmus Darwin, a poet, philosopher, and naturalist. Charles' mother, Susannah Wedgewood Darwin, died when he was eight years old. Darwin studied medicine briefly, then went to become a clergyman in the Church of England. After receiving his degree, Darwin accepted an invitation to serve as an unpaid naturalist on the H.M.S. Beagle, which departed on a five-year scientific expedition to the Pacific Coast of South America on December 31, 1831. Darwin's research resulting from this voyage formed the basis of his famous book, On the origin of species by means of natural selection. Published in 1859, the work aroused a storm of controversy. Here Darwin outlined his theory of evolution, challenging contemporary beliefs about the creation of life on Earth. Darwin continued to write and publish his works on biology throughout his life. He lived with his wife and children at their home in the village of Downe, fifteen miles from London. He died on April 19, 1882 and lies buried in Westminster Abbey.

From the description of Letter to "Dear Sir," undated. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 501206912

From the description of Letter to B. D. Wrangham, 1880, September 16. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 502017119

Francis Storr (1839-1919) was a British educator and editor. He probably gave this letter and 3 others to Alexander Lindsay, 1st Baron Lindsay of Birker (1879-1952) who was a professor at Oxford. Lindsay's son, Michael Lindsay (1910-1994), a professor of Far Eastern Studies at American University (1960-1964) in Washington, DC, lent the 4 letters to the Library of Congress for photocopying in 1964 and probably gave Darwin's letter to Wilkinson later on.

From the description of [Letter], Mar. 5, 1875 [to Francis Storr]. (American Museum of Natural History). WorldCat record id: 741278370

English naturalist.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : [London], to the botanist, John Stevens Henslow, [1839 Nov.] "Sunday Evening". (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270522448

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Down, Kent, to an unidentified recipient, [1853] Aug. 16. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270518399

From the description of Autograph quotation signed : Down, 1869 Jun. 23. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270534311

From the description of The descent of man : autograph leaf from an early draft of the work : [Down, Kent, ca. 1868-1870]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270536352

English naturalist. Author of The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, etc. In 1852 Sir William Denison, Governor of New South Wales was asked to report on a plan for the abolition of the convict settlement on Norfolk Island and for its occupation by the descendants of the Bounty mutineers, who were then living on Pitcairn Island but had become too numerous for the island to support. This plan was put into effect, the Pitcairn Islanders being transferred to Norfolk Island in 1856. (Australian Encyclopaedia, 1958).

From the description of Letter [manuscript]. 1874. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 225818697

Epithet: naturalist

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000758.0x0000dd

Charles Robert Darwin was a British naturalist and author of "On the Origin of Species" (1859).

From the description of Papers, 1831-1882. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122584290

From the description of Letters, 1837-1882. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122689491

History / Biography

Short biographical sketches are provided for some of the key figures represented in the collection.

Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. His father, Robert Waring Darwin (1766-1848), was a physician, the son of Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), a poet, philosopher, and naturalist. Robert established a successful medical practice in Shrewsbury where he was known for his kindness extended to the poor. He was financially quite successful and willing to support his sons in their various endeavors. Although not a prolific writer, he was elected to the Royal Society in 1788. Charles' mother, Susannah Wedgwood Darwin (1765-1817), was the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood, one of the founders of the Wedgwood pottery works and a supporter of the movement to abolish slavery in the British Empire. She died when Charles Darwin was eight years old.

At age sixteen, Darwin left Shrewsbury to study medicine at Edinburgh University. Repelled by the sight of surgery performed without anesthesia, he eventually went to Cambridge University to prepare to become a clergyman in the Church of England. After receiving his degree, Darwin accepted an invitation to serve as an unpaid naturalist on the H.M.S. Beagle, which departed on a five-year scientific expedition to the Pacific coast of South America on December 31, 1831.

Darwin's research resulting from this voyage formed the basis of his famous book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection . Published in 1859, the work aroused a storm of controversy. Here Darwin outlined his theory of evolution, challenging the contemporary beliefs about the creation of life on earth. Later works included The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), and many others. Darwin continued to write and publish his works on biology throughout his life. He lived with his wife and eight children at their home in the village of Downe, fifteen miles from London. Several of his children achieved great distinction of their own: George Howard Darwin (1845-1912), as a geologist and astronomer, Francis Darwin (1848-1925), as a botanist, and Leonard Darwin (1850-1943), as an economist. Charles Darwin died after a long illness on April 19, 1882, and is buried in Westminster Abbey.

A number of Darwin descendants are represented in the collection. Francis Darwin, Charles' third son, also was a botanist and naturalist. Although trained as a physician, he never practiced medicine. Early in his career, he worked as a research assistant for his father. He pursued an academic career at Cambridge where he was a Fellow of Christ's College and University Lecturer in Botany. He was appointed Reader in 1888 and retired in 1904. He published a number of works on botany and is perhaps best remembered for his editing of the basic biographies of his father: Life and Letters (3 v., 1887) and More Letters (2 v., 1903). Bernard Darwin (1876-1961), the son of Francis, was a writer with a special emphasis and interest in sports, particularly golf, which he covered for The Times (in London) and Country Life . He also contributed the introduction for the first edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (1941) and with his wife authored a number of children's books, being particularly noted for the Tootleoo series.

The collection also contains material related to the Huxley family. Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), was a biologist, zoologist, philosopher, and teacher. He was a staunch defender of Darwin and sometimes was referred to as "Darwin's Bulldog". Huxley had an important impact on the intellectual currents of the times through his writings on science, philosophy, religion and politics. Among his many works are: Evidence on Man's Place in Nature, a comprehensive review of what was known at the time about primate and human paleontology and ethnology, published in 1863, only five years after Darwin's Origin of Species, and Ethics and Evolution (1893). Huxley is credited with the invention of the term 'agnosticism' to describe his philosophical position: it expresses his attitude toward certain traditional questions without giving any clear delimitation of the frontiers of knowledge. In works such as Ethics and Evolution, moral order is contrasted with the cosmic order. Evolution shows signs of constant struggle, but rather than looking to it for moral guidance, he rejected "the gladiatorial theory of existence."

Julian Sorell Huxley (1887-1975), grandson of Thomas Henry, and brother of the writer Aldous was a biologist, writer, and teacher who achieved renown both as a scientist and for his ability to make scientific concepts clear to the public through his writings. Julian Huxley was born in London and educated at Balliol College, University of Oxford. He was one of the most highly visible scientists of the mid-twentieth century, popular as a radio and television panelist and as a lecturer. Like his grandfather, he was particularly interested in concepts of evolution and growth, dealing with them in the light of the philosophic problems generated by contemporary scientific developments. In his Religion without Revelation (1927), he suggested that humans could find an outlet for their religious zeal in contemplation of their own destiny, rather than in theistic creeds. In Evolution: The Modern Synthesis (1942), he made important connections between evolution and genetics.

A final group of manuscripts in the collection pertains to the work of the anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1917). Tylor was most interested in tracing the evolutionary process in the areas of social customs and beliefs. He was a fervent Darwinian with an infinite respect for facts. Although based at Oxford, where he was professor of anthropology and keeper of the university museum, he and his wife Anna Tylor traveled extensively both for his health and his research. Their Quaker background is reflected in their concern for the impact of evolutionary thought upon religion. The collection includes correspondence between him and his wife and his brother Alfred Tylor, a geologist. Alfred's son, Joseph John Tylor, an engineer and Egyptologist, and daughter, Juliet Tylor are among other Tylor family members represented.

From the guide to the Charles Darwin / Evolution Collection, ca. 1786-1968, 1840s-1920s, (University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections.)

The Darwin Centennial Celebration, commemorating the publication by Charles Darwin of the Origin of the Species, was held at the University of Chicago from November 24 through November 28, 1959. The Celebration began with a Darwin Day program on November 24, the date of the one hundredth anniversary of the publication of The Origin of the Species, and featured a lecture by Sir Charles Darwin, grandson of Charles Darwin. On November 26 a special Convocation of the University was held in honor of the Celebration. The principal speaker at the convocation was Sir Julian Huxley. In his address, "The Evolutionary Vision," he proposed that religion, being subject to the laws of evolution, was fast becoming obsolete and would eventually evolve itself out of existence. The evening of the Convocation a performance was given of "Time will Tell," a musical about Darwin's life and work.

The heart of the celebration was a series of five panel discussions, involving about fifty well-known scholars from around the world. These panel discussions covered various facets of evolutionary theory and the influence of evolution on the modern world. Panel I was concerned with the origin of life; Panel II took up the evolution of life; Panel III inquired into the role of man as an organism; Panel IV considered the evolution of the mind; and Panel V discussed social and cultural evolution. The scholars participating in the panel discussions produced papers several months in advance of the conference that were read and criticized by the other scholars taking part in the Celebration. These papers formed the basis for the five panel discussions. The discussions were spontaneous, however, with no papers read.

Also included in the Celebration were a National Conference for High School Biology Teachers, an Institute for High School Teachers of Biology, which examined the problems of teaching evolutionary theory in our public schools, and an Institute on Science and Theology, which examined the relation of science, and more specifically evolution, to theology.

The papers written by the participants previous to the panel discussions were compiled in a three volume set Evolution after Darwin, edited by Sol Tax and Charles Callendar, which was published by the University of Chicago Press in 1960. In addition to Evolution after Darwin, products of the Centennial Celebration included a film, "The University of Chicago Darwin Centennial Celebration," produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica Films, a segment of a television show, "At Random," in which Sir Julian Huxley, Sir Charles Darwin, Adlai Stevenson, and Harlow Shapley participated, and various interviews with the participants, especially with Sir Julian Huxley, whose views resulted in much public controversy, and consequently much publicity for the conference.

The Celebration was the idea of Sol Tax, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, who served as the chairman of the Centennial Committee. The University of Chicago, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research joined in sponsoring the Centennial Celebration.

From the guide to the Darwin Centennial Celebration. Records, 1959, (Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

The profound influence of the thought of Charles Darwin on contemporary scientific culture stems largely from his theory of natural selection, the first widely accepted mechanism to account for organismal evolutionary change. A product of Victorian preconceptions of the order of nature and the nature of change, both Darwin and his theories have proven remarkably resilient and remain a vital heuristic in the biological sciences.

The son of the physician Robert Darwin, Charles Darwin was blessed with a pair of illustrious grandfathers from the progressive elite of British Whiggery, the savant and proto-evolutionist, Erasmus Darwin, and the manufacturer of ceramics, Josiah Wedgwood. Born in Shrewsbury on February 12, 1809, Charles entered the University of Edinburgh at age sixteen, intending to follow in his father's footsteps into medicine, but he proved as unmotivated a student as he was unenthusiastic. Repulsed by the experience of attending surgeries undertaken in the absence of anaesthetics, Darwin abandoned his already half-hearted commitment to medicine and in 1827, he left Edinburgh for Christ's College, Cambridge, to study for the ministry.

The change of venue did little to rouse Darwin's enthusiasm for coursework, however at Cambridge, he met three men whose enthusiasm for nature sparked his imagination. With the great geologist, Charles Lyell, Darwin undertook field excursions to south Wales and was introduced to the concept of uniformitarianism; with F.W. Hope, he spent the summer of 1829 collecting bugs and beetles; while the botanist John Stevens Henslow encouraged his interest in the natural sciences, but equally importantly introduced him to Captain Robert Fitz-Roy. After receiving his degree in 1831, Darwin signed on as naturalist aboard Fitz-Roy's H.M.S. Beagle on its cruise around the world. Summarizing Darwin's subsequent career would be an exercise in courting claims to insufficiency while guaranteeing inadequacy, yet

Returning home from the Beagle in 1836, Darwin began in earnest to write and publish in natural history. His first paper, speculating on the origin of coral atolls, was begun in December 1835, and he began his first notebook on theories relating to the transmutation of species in July 1837, only two months after presenting his coral atoll paper at the Geological Society. Financial pressures were not a concern for the well-heeled Darwin, particularly after marrying his wealthy first cousin, Emma Wedgwood, in January 1839, and from the late 1830s onward, Darwin was able to lead an gentleman's life devoted to the pursuit of science, interrupted on occasion by illness and family concerns.

Darwin's first major monograph, his Journal of Researches (London: H. Colburn, 1839), was an important record of the geological and natural historical observations made during his voyage aboard the Beagle, and was a huge popular success. Since his visit to the Galapagos aboard the Beagle, however, Darwin had been percolating with ideas on the transmutation of species, an idea that had concerned his grandfather Erasmus before him. According to Darwin's retelling of the events, his ideas began to gel after reading Thomas Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population, which confirmed his predilection for viewing nature as a struggle for existence in which "favourable variations would tend to be preserved and unfavourable ones to be destroyed." Malthusian logic, he believed, would lead one to conclude that the end result would be the differential reproduction of animal populations based upon the characteristics each possessed, leading ultimately to speciation. By the early 1840s, Darwinian natural selection was beginning to germinate.

Yet still he sat. Darwin's research during the 1840s and early 1850s included brushes with the evolutionist thought of the botanist J.D. Hooker, the cosmic Robert Chambers and others, and in 1842, he sketched out the rudiments of his theory, thinking enough of it to have it copied two years later. His ardor for publishing on the topic may have been cooled by the hostility he saw meted out to Chambers' Vestiges of the Natural Creation (1844), but his attention was also divided -- barnacles and migraines were as much part of Darwin's decades as natural selection. Even the appearance in 1855 of Alfred Russel Wallace's "On the Law Which has Regulated the Introduction of New Species" in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History did little to prod Darwin onward, nor did the intervention of his old mentor, Charles Lyell, speed the pen. It was not until 1858 that Darwin moved forward, having receiving a letter from Wallace informing him that Malthus's Essay had illuminated his thinking on the origin of species, and enclosing a manuscript for comment that outlined a theory with a strong, coincidental resemblance to Darwin's own. Fearful of losing any claim to priority, Darwin had his 1844 essay and Wallace's published jointly in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society in August 1858, and he proceeded feverishly (often literally so) to work on a longer "abstract" of his ideas, the work that became his magnum opus, On the Origin of Species (London: J. Murray, 1859).

In the spectacular sequence of books that followed, Darwin elucidated various aspects of the theory of natural selection, progressing with increasing confidence through The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication (London: J.Murray, 1868), The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (London: J. Murray, 1871); and The Expression of the Emotions in Man and the Animals (London: J. Murray, 1872). Lacking, as he admitted, in any coherent theory of heredity, Darwin's natural selection nevertheless provided a persuasive explanation of the mechanics of organismal change. While the response to natural selection was not uniformly warm, perhaps even providing impetus to Lamarckian theories of inheritance, it was chiefly responsible for establishing evolutionary change as an integral part of biological explanation. The broader implications of Darwin's thought, including the role of contingency, relativism, and stochasticity in organismal change continue to define biological interests. More subtly, his ideas catalyzed a slow shift away from typological thinking (imaging the organism with respect to a perfect "type") toward viewing organisms in the context of a population, an attitudinal adjustment with profound implications for the practice of science in the twentieth century.

Darwin continued with research and writing until the time of his death on April 19, 1882. His last work was the quirky, fascinating, and perhaps prophetic book, The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms (London: J. Murray 1882).

From the guide to the An Annotated Calendar of the Letters of Charles Darwin in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, 1799-1882, (American Philosophical Society)



Biographical notes are generated from the bibliographic and archival source records supplied by data contributors.

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Subjects:

  • Transmutation of animals
  • Naturalists--Biography
  • Religion and science -- History -- 19th century.
  • Geology
  • Naturalists
  • Geology--Great Britain--19th century
  • Horticulture.
  • Science
  • Tigers
  • Evolution
  • Evolution (Biology)
  • Voyages and travels.
  • Naturalists--Correspondence
  • Naturalists--England
  • Natural selection.
  • Natural history.
  • Infants--Development
  • Natural history--Great Britain--19th century
  • Race, race relations, racism
  • Natural history
  • Marine biology
  • Genetics
  • Evolution.
  • Calcarea
  • Beyond Early America
  • Naturalists--Archives
  • Child development
  • Naturalists--England--Correspondence.
  • Evolution--Religious aspects
  • Biology, genetics, eugenics
  • Ciegos--Libros y lectura
  • Botany.
  • Natural selection
  • Religion and science.
  • Sundews
  • Adaptation (Biology)
  • Variation (Biology)
  • Sponges
  • Heredity
  • Astronomers
  • Zoology
  • Religion and science--1860-1899
  • Coral reefs and islands
  • Religion and science
  • Evolution--Religious aspects.

Occupations:

  • Naturalists.
  • Naturalists -- England.
  • Photographers.
  • Naturalists
  • Naturalists--England.

Places:

  • England (as recorded)
  • India, Asia (as recorded)
  • Scotland, United Kingdom (as recorded)
  • London, England (as recorded)
  • Oceania (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • Ireland, Europe (as recorded)
  • Naturalists - England (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • Wareham, Dorset (as recorded)
  • Pitcairn Island (as recorded)
  • Norfolk Island (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • Nevis, West Indies (as recorded)
  • Barbados, the Carribean (as recorded)
  • Durham, England (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Ireland, Europe (as recorded)
  • India, Asia (as recorded)
  • Brazil (as recorded)
  • Canada (as recorded)
  • Neufchâtel-en-Bray al. Chateauneuf de Lincourt, Seine-Inférieure (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • German (as recorded)
  • River Gambia, West Africa (as recorded)
  • Ireland, Europe (as recorded)
  • Scotland, United Kingdom (as recorded)
  • Exmes, France (as recorded)
  • Africa, Africa (as recorded)
  • United States of America (as recorded)
  • Essay, France (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • South Africa, Africa (as recorded)
  • Cocos, Australia (as recorded)
  • Antwerp, Belgium (as recorded)
  • Bere Regis, Dorset (as recorded)
  • Hawaii (as recorded)
  • Cape Verde Islands, Africa (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • Scotland, United Kingdom (as recorded)
  • Pitcairn Island (as recorded)
  • Scotland, United Kingdom (as recorded)
  • Montserrat, West Indies (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • Rouen, France (as recorded)