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“I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection.”
- CHARLES DARWIN
Charles Darwin
Naturalist, 1809 -1882

Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. Darwin was born on the same day as Abraham Lincoln. He was the fifth child and second son of Robert Waring Darwin and Susannah Wedgwood. Darwin was the British naturalist who became famous for his theories of evolution and natural selection. Like several scientists before him, Darwin believed all the life on earth evolved (developed gradually) over millions of years from a few common ancestors.

In 1831, Darwin set out on H.M.S. Beagle as a self-financed gentleman companion to the 26-year-old captain, Robert Fitzroy. The Beagle was on a British science expedition around the world. In South America Darwin found fossils of extinct animals that were similar to modern species. On the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean he noticed many variations among plants and animals of the same general type as those in South America. The expedition visited places around the world, and Darwin studied plants and animals everywhere he went, collecting specimens for further study.

Upon his return to London in 1836, Darwin conducted thorough research of his notes and specimens. Out of this study grew several related theories: one, evolution did occur; two, evolutionary change was gradual, requiring thousands to millions of years; three, the primary mechanism for evolution was a process called natural selection; and four, the millions of species alive today arose from a single original life form through a branching process called speciation.”

Darwin's theory of evolutionary selection holds that variation within species occurs randomly and that the survival or extinction of each organism is determined by that organism's ability to adapt to its environment. He set these theories forth in his book called, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859) or “The Origin of Species” for short. After publication of Origin of Species, Darwin continued to write on botany, geology, and zoology until his death in 1882. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Darwin's work had a tremendous impact on religious thought. Many people strongly opposed the idea of evolution because it conflicted with their religious convictions. Darwin avoided talking about the theological and sociological aspects of his work, but other writers used his theories to support their own theories about society. Darwin was a reserved, thorough, hard working scholar who concerned himself with the feelings and emotions not only of his family, but friends and peers as well.

It has been supposed that Darwin renounced evolution on his deathbed. Shortly after his death, temperance campaigner and evangelist Lady Elizabeth Hope claimed she visited Darwin at his deathbed, and witnessed the renunciation. Her story was printed in a Boston newspaper and subsequently spread. Lady Hope's story was refuted by Darwin's daughter Henrietta who stated, “I was present at his deathbed ... He never recanted any of his scientific views, either then or earlier.”

If you are aware of books, movies, databases, web sites or other information sources about Charles Darwin or related subjects, or if you would like to comment, please contact us.

Resource Menu
Books By/About Charles Darwin

The Origin of Species The Origin of Species
by Charles Darwin

One of the most controversial books ever written, Darwin's "The Origin of Species" has helped shape the modern world. This edition also includes an introductory historical sketch and a glossary Darwin later added to the original text. Introduction by Walter Cronkite.

Purchase this hardcover edition of The Origin of Species

Voyage of the Beagle Voyage of the Beagle
by Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin's chronicle of his amazing journey aboard the Beagle where he made observations that led to his revolutionary theory of natural selection.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Voyage of the Beagle

The Descent of Man The Descent of Man
by Charles Darwin

In "The Descent of Man," Charles Darwin considers first, whether humans, like every other species, are descended from some pre-existing form; second, the manner of human development; and third, the value of the differences between the so-called races of humans.

Purchase this paperback edition of The Descent of Man

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin The Autobiography of Charles Darwin
by Charles Darwin, Edited by Nora Barlow

The autobiography of an extraordinary scientist and man. This is an unexpurgated version of many of Darwin's letters, edited and annotated by his granddaughter, Nora Barlow.

Purchase this paperback edition of The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin's Letters Charles Darwin's Letters: A Selection, 1825-1859
by Charles Darwin, Edited by Frederick Burkhardt

The autobiography of an extraordinary scientist and man. This is an unexpurgated version of many of Darwin's letters, edited and annotated by his granddaughter, Nora Barlow.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Charles Darwin's Letters

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution
by David Quammen

A concise, entertaining, enlightening glance at one of the most influential thinkers in history.

Purchase this hardcover edition of The Reluctant Mr. Darwin

The Man and His Influence Charles Darwin: The Man and His Influence
by Peter J. Bowler

This study of Darwin's life combines biography and cultural history to show how Darwin's contemporaries were unable to appreciate precisely those aspects of his thinking that are considered scientifically important today.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Charles Darwin: The Man and His Influence

The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist
by Adrian Desmond and James Moore

A portrait of the naturalist and scientific theorist from a sociocultural point of view, and putting the theory of natural selection in that context. The authors explain Darwin's lifelong struggle between his own materialist science and a late-Victorian theology.

Purchase this paperback edition of Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist

Why Darwin Matters Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design
by Michael Shermer

A concise defence of biological science and evolutionary theory vs. the concept of intelligent design, aka creationism. I highly recommend the book to anyone interesting in the topic.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design


DVDs About Charles Darwin/Evolution

Charles Darwin: Evolution's Voice Charles Darwin: Evolution's Voice
Produced by A&E Biographies

Darwin's life and work are covered in the A&E biography.

Purchase this DVD edition of Charles Darwin: Evolution's Voice

Genius NOVA - Genius: The Science of Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Galileo
Produced by WGBS Boston

An excellent collection of four Nova programs about the lives and work of four of the most influential scientists in history: Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Galileo.

Purchase this video edition of NOVA - Genius: The Science of Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Galileo

Dawn of Man Dawn of Man - The Story of Human Evolution, Vol. 1-3
Produced by BBC/TLC Co-Production

Solid science, an excellent production. If you are interested in evolution this video is not to be missed.

Purchase this video edition of Dawn of Man

Evolution Evolution: Darwin's Dangerous Idea
Produced by WGBH/PBS

This documentary about the life of Charles Darwin details both his ideas and the contrast with religious and scientific norms of his day. The series combines dramatizations of key moments in Darwin's life with contemporary experts explaining the profound implications of natural selection and the theory of evolution.

Purchase this DVD edition of Evolution: Darwin's Dangerous Idea

What Darwin Never Knew What Darwin Never Knew
Produced by PBS

This DVD takes viewers on a journey from the Galapagos Islands to the Arctic, and from the Cambrian explosion of animal forms half a billion years ago to the research labs of today, confirming the brilliance of Darwin's insights while exposing clues to life's breathtaking diversity in ways he could scarcely have imagined.

Purchase this DVD edition of What Darwin Never Knew


Charles Darwin eTexts

The Origin of Species

The Descent of Man

Voyage of the Beagle

Religious Belief by Charles Darwin
An extract from "The Autobiography of Charles Darwin"


Related Websites

The Charles Darwin Foundation

About Darwin
Dedicated to the Life and Times of Charles Darwin

C. Warren Irvin, Jr., Collection of Darwin Memorabilia

Darwin's Obituary (1888)
From the Obituary Notices of the Proceedings of the Royal Society, vol. 44.

Ideas About Darwin
Attempts to make Darwin accessible to contemporary people.

Victorian Science: An Overview
Science in the Victorian age, including Darwin

ENSI
Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes

Darwin Gravesite

Lucidcafe.com's Charles Darwin Coffee Cups and Apparel



Charles Darwin



Related Figures in the Lucidcafé Library





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