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flourishDarwin and his Colleagues at the Lloyd Library and Museum


(About the Exhibit)

Darwin's portrait from the Journal of Researches of the BeagleCharles Darwin
Born: February 12, 1809, Shrewsbury, England
Died: April 19, 1882, Down House, Downe
, England

Career: Naturalist, though studied medicine and theology at Edinburgh and Cambridge. Natural History was a childhood interest that never went away. Cambridge botany professor, John Stevens Henslow, got me a job as the naturalist on the HMS Beagle for its voyage to survey coastal areas of South America and some islands in the Pacific Ocean in the years 1831-1836.

Notable achievements: The concepts of Evolution and Survival of the Fittest are most closely associated with my work, though I have published on topics such as coral reefs, climbing plants, and insectivorous plants. See a list of my publications below.

flourishFriends (just click on a Friend to view their profile)

Louis Agassiz
Louis Agassiz
Isaac Anderson-Henry
Isaac Anderson-Henry
Thomas Campbell Eyton
Thomas Campbell Eyton
Asa Gray stamp
Asa Gray
John Stevens Henslow
John Stevens Henslow
Joseph Dalton Hooker Joseph Dalton Hooker
Thomas Henry Huxley
Thomas Henry
John Lindley stamp
John Lindley
Charles Lyell
Charles Lyell
Richard Owen
Richard Owen
Alfred Russel Wallace
Alfred Russel Wallace
Benjamin Dann Walsh stamp image
Benjamin Dann Walsh
Hewett Cottrell Watson stamp image
Hewett Cottrell Watson


Erasmus Darwin, Charles' grandfather
Erasmus Darwin
Francis Darwin
Francis Darwin
Robert Waring Darwin
Robert Waring Darwin (Uncle)


small image of the HMS BeagleMarch 18, 1832: We sailed from Bahia. A few days afterwards, when not far distant from the Abrolhos Islets, my attention was called to a reddish-brown appearance in the sea. The whole surface of the water, as it appeared under a weak lens, seemed as if covered by chopped bits of hay, with their ends jagged. These are minute cylindrical confervae, in bundles or rafts of from twenty to sixty in each. Mr. Berkeley informs me that they are the same species (Trichodesmium erythraeum) with that found over large spaces in the Red Sea, and whence its name of Red Sea is derived...Captain Cook, in his third voyage, remarks, that the sailors gave to this appearance the name of sea-sawdust.

Stephen's lepidopteraApril 19, 1832: The large and brilliantly-coloured Lepidoptera bespeak the zone they inhabit far more plainly than any other race of animals. I allude only to the butterflies; for the moths, contrary to what might have been expected from the rankness of the vegetation, certainly appeared in much fewer numbers than in our own temperate regions. I was much surprised at the habits of Papilio feronia... This is the only butterfly which I have ever seen, that uses its legs for running. Not being aware of this fact, the insect, more than once, as I cautiously approached with my forceps, shuffled on one side just as the instrument was on the point of closing, and thus escaped.

May 18, 1832: I find my life on board when we are on blue water most delightful, so very comfortable and quiet - it is almost impossible to be idle, and that for me is saying a good deal... I am well off in books, the 'Dictionnaire Classique' is most useful... I have just returned from a walk, and as a specimen, how little the insects are known. Noterus, according to the "Dictionnaire Classique," contains solely three European species. I in one haul of my net took five distinct species; is this not quite extraordinary?

November 26th, 1833: I set out on my return in a direct line for Monte Video.  Having heard of some giant’s bones at a neighbouring farm-house on the Sarandis, a small stream entering the Rio Negro, I rode there accompanied by my host, and purchased for the value of eighteen pence, the head of an animal equalling [Darwin’s spelling] in size that of the hippopotamus.  Mr. Owen in a paper read before the Geological Society, has called this very extraordinary animal, Toxodon, from the curvature of its teeth.

…The people at the farm-house told me that the remains were exposed, by a flood having washed down part of a bank of earth.  When found, the head was quite perfect; but the boys knocked the teeth out with stones, and then set up the head as a mark to throw at.  By a most fortunate chance, I found a perfect tooth, which exactly fits one of the sockets in this skull, embedded by itself on the banks of the Rio Tercero…Near the Toxodon I found the fragments of the head of an animal, rather larger than the horse, which has some points of resemblance with the Toxodon, and others perhaps with the Edentata.  The head of this animal, as well as that of the Toxodon, and especially the former, appear so fresh, that it is difficult to believe they have lain buried for ages under ground.

June 8, 1834: At the base of the lofty and almost perpendicular sides of our little cove there was one deserted wigwam, and it alone reminded us that man sometimes wandered into these desolate regions. But it would be difficult to imagine a scene where he seemed to have fewer claims or less authority. The inanimate works of nature - rock, ice, snow, wind, and water - all warring with each other, yet combined against man - here reigned in absolute sovereignty.

August 15th, 1834: The country was exceedingly pleasant; just such as poets would call pastoral: green open lawns, separated by small valleys with rivulets, and the cottages, we may suppose of the shepherds, scattered on the hill-sides... The valley is very broad and quite flat, and is thus easily irrigated in all parts. The little square gardens are crowded with orange and olive trees, and every sort of vegetable... Wheat is extensively cultivated, and a good deal of Indian corn: a kind of bean is, however, the staple article of food for the common labourers. The orchards produce an overflowing abundance of peaches, figs, and grapes.

August 18th, 1834: We rode during the two succeeding days up the valley, and passed through Quillota, which is more like a collection of nursery-gardens than a town. The orchards were beautiful, presenting one mass of peach-blossoms. I saw also, in one or two places the date-palm; it is a most stately tree...

September 6th, 1834: The next day we turned up the valley of the Rio Cachapual, in which the hot-baths of Cauquenes, long celebrated for their medicinal properties, are situated...We reached the baths in the evening, and stayed there five days, being confined the two last by heavy rains. The buildings consist of a square of miserable little hovels, each with a single table and bench... It is a quiet, solitary spot, with a good deal of wild beauty.

The mineral springs of Cauquenes burst forth on a line of dislocation, crossing a mass of stratified rock, the whole of which betrays the action of heat. A considerable quantity of gas is continually escaping from the same orifices with the water. Though the springs are only a few yards apart, they have very different temperatures; and this appears to be the result of an unequal mixture of cold water: for those with the lowest temperature have scarcely any mineral taste...It seems probably that mineral waters rising deep from the bowels of the earth, would always be more deranged by subterranean disturbances than those nearer the surface. The man who had charge of the baths, assured me that in summer the water is hotter and more plentiful than in winter. The former circumstance I should have expected…but the latter statement appears very strange and contradictory...if true, certainly is very curious: for, we must suppose that the snow-water, being conducted through porous strata to the regions of heat...

June 11th, 1835: My geological examination of the country generally created a good deal of surprise amongst the Chilenos... I found the most read way of explaining my employment was to ask them how it was that they themselves were not curious concerning earthquakes and volcanoes? - why some springs were hot and others cold? - why there were mountains in Chile, and not a hill in La Plata? These bare questions at once satisfied and silenced the greater number; some, however (like a few in England who are a century behindhand), thought that all such inquiries were useless and impious; and that it was sufficient that God had thus made the mountains.

December 19, 1835: In the evening we saw New Zealand in the distance.  We may now consider ourselves as having nearly crossed the Pacific ocean.  It is necessary to sail over this great sea to understand its immensity.  Moving quickly onwards for weeks together we meet with nothing, but the same blue, profoundly deep, ocean… Accustomed to look at maps, drawn on a small scale, where dots, shading, and names are crowded together, we do not judge rightly how infinitely small the proportion of dry land is to the water of this great sea… [Writing about arriving at the Antipodes]  Only the other day, I looked forward to this airy barrier, as a definite point in our voyage homewards; but now I find it, and all such resting-places for the imagination, are like shadows which a man moving onwards cannot catch.

January 12th, 1836: The number of aborigines is rapidly decreasing. In my whole ride, with the exception of some boys brought up in the houses, I saw only one other party... This decrease, no doubt, must be partly owing to the introduction of spirits, to European diseases (even the milder ones of which, as the measles, prove very destructive), and to the gradual extinction of wild animals... As the difficulty of procuring food increases, so must their wandering habits; and hence the population, without any apparent deaths from famine, is repressed in a manner extremely sudden compared to what happens in civilized countries, where the father may add to his labour, without destroying his offspring.

...Wherever the European has trod, death seems to pursue the aboriginal...

Read more about Darwin's travels in Lloyd's Off-the-Shelf Year of Darwin

flourishDowne Blog

ink quill

October 1, 1859, entry from Darwin's personal diary:...Finished proofs (thirteen months and ten days) of Abstract on Origin of Species...1250 copies printed...The first edition was published on November 24th, and all copies sold first day.

Sept. 30, [1859], to C. Lyell, Down: ...I sent off this morning the last sheets, but without index, which is not in type...Murray has printed 1250 copies, which seems to me rather too large an edition, but I hope he will not lose. I make as much fuss about my book as if it were my first.

Sept. 2 [1859], to J.D. Hooker, Down: ...I had a terribly long fit of sickness yesterday, which makes the world rather extra gloomy to-day, and I have an insanely strong wish to finish my accursed book, such corrections every page has required as I never saw before. It is so weariful killing the whole afternoon, after 12 o'clock doing nothing whatever. But I will grumble no more...

April 5, [1859], to John Murray (publisher of the On the Origin of Species), Down:
MY DEAR SIR,--I send by this post, the Title (with some remarks on a separate page), and the first three chapters. If you have patience to read all Chapter I.., I honestly think you will have a fair notion of the interest of the whole book. It may be conceit, but I believe the subject will interest the public, and I am sure the views are original. If you think otherwise, I must repeat my request that you will freely reject my work; and though I shall be a little disappointed, I shall be in no way injured...
...You must take your own time, but the sooner you finish...the sooner I shall get to press, which I so earnestly wish.
My dear Sir, yours sincerely,

April 2, [1859], to J. D. Hooker, Down: ...I wrote to him [Mr. Murray] and gave him the headings of the chapters, and told him he could not have the MS. for ten days or so; and this morning I received a letter, offering me handsome terms, and agreeing to publish without seeing the MS!

March 28, [1859], to C. Lyell, Down: ...If I keep decently well, I hope to be able to go to press with my volume early in May...My Abstract will be about five hundred pages of the size of your first edition of the 'Elements of Geology.'

March 5, [1859], to J. D. Hooker, Down: ...I am very glad you will read my Geographical MS.; it is now copying, and it will (I presume) take ten days or so in being finished; it shall be sent as soon as done...
...I have been so poorly, the last three days that I sometimes doubt whether I shall ever get my little volume done, though so nearly completed.

Jan. 23, [1859], to J. D. Hooker, Down: ...How glad I shall be when the Abstract is finished, and I can rest!...

Dec. 24, [1858], to J. D. Hooker,Down: ...I have now written 330 folio pages of my Abstract, and it will require 150-200 [more]; so that it will make a printed volume of 400 pages, and must be printed separately, which I think will be better in many respects.

Oct. 6, 1858, to J. D. Hooker, [Down]: ...I am working most steadily on my Abstract, but it grows to an inordinate length; yet fully to make my view clear (and never giving briefly more than a fact or two, and slurring over difficulties), I cannot make it shorter. It will take me three or four months; so slow do I work, though never idle.


Image of the BeagleEmotions figure 18 disappointed chimpInsectivorous Plants figure 13Researches megatherium

...more images

flourishThe Map Room (click on an image for larger view)

map of ChileTierra del FuegoMap of Straits of Magellanmap of South America

Map of the Low IslandsMap of Journey of the Beagle

Map of Coral ReefsGeological chart

flourishMy Publications (and about me, held by the Lloyd Library and Museum)

  • Charles Darwin and the voyage of the Beagle (1946) QH11.D16
  • Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter and in a selected series of his published letters / edited by his son Francis Darwin (1893) QH31.D2 A7
  • The Charles Darwin papers (1992) QH31.H9 A2 [Microfilm]
  • The descent of man: and selection in relation to sex (1871) QH365 .D2
  • The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species (1877, 1880, 1888, 1903, 1877 (German), 1878 (French)) QH365.D9
  • The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom (1876, 1877 (German), 1878, 1888, 1900) QK926.D32
  • Evolutionary writings (2008) QH31.D2 A3
  • The expression of the emotions in man and animals (1873, 1910) QH365.E2
  • Extracts from letters addressed to Professor Henslow: read at a meeting of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 16 November, 1835 (1960) QH11.D19
  • The formation of vegetable mould through the action of worms: with observations on their habits (1881, 1882, 1888, 1907) QL391.A6 D35
  • The foundations of the Origin of species: two essays written in 1842 and 1844; edited by his son Francis Darwin (1909) QH 365.O15
  • Geological observations on the volcanic islands and parts of South America visited during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle (1900) QE4.D37
  • Insectivorous plants (1875, 1876 (German), 1877 (French), 1886, 1888, 1889, 1900, 1908) QK917.D32
  • Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by H.M.S. Beagle: under the command of Captain Fitzroy, R.N. from 1832 to 1836 (1840, 1844 (German), 1845, 1870, 1873, 1875 (German), 1888, 1889, 1893 (English and German), 1899?, 1901, 1909) QH11.D25
  • The life and letters of Charles Darwin: including an autobiographical chapter / edited by his son Francis Darwin (1887, 1888, 1959) QH31.D2 A2
  • A monograph on the sub-class Cirripedia: with figures of all the species (1851-54, 1964) QL444.C5 D2
  • More letters of Charles Darwin: a record of his work in a series of hitherto unpublished letters / ed. by Francis Darwin and A.C. Seward (1903) QH31.D2 A4
  • Narrative of the surveying voyages of his Majesty's ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836: describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagle's circumnavigation of the globe (1839) QH11.N37
  • On the movements and habits of climbing plants (1865, 1875, 1876 (German), 1877 (French), 1883, 1890 (French), 1891, 1906) QK773.D3
  • On the origin of species by means of natural selection: or, The preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life (1859, 1860, 1861, 1863 (German), 1866 (English and French), 1869, 1870 (French), 1872 (English and German), 1876 (German), 1878, 1880 (French), 1882, 1887 (French), 1888, 1890, 1892 (German), 1896 (French), 1897, 1900, [1906] (German), 1936)) QH365.O2
  • On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects: and on the good effects of intercrossing (1862 (English and German), 1870 (French), 1886, 1891 (French) QK926
  • The power of movement in plants (1880, 1882 (French), 1900) QK771.D3
  • The structure and distribution of coral reefs (1889) QE565.D37
  • The variation of animals and plants under domestication (1868 (English and German), 1873 (German), 1875, [188?] (Dutch), 1880 (French), 1893, 1900) QH365.V2
  • The voyage of the Beagle (2006) QH11.D2


Lloyd Library and Museum Online Catalog

The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online

Darwin Correspondence Project

Beetles, Barnacles, Orchids, and the Origin of Species: Charles Darwin and His Legacy

WorldCat Profile on Darwin

Miami University (Ohio) Art Museum events - fall 2009 provides a variety of Darwin learning opportunities

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