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Charles Darwin Biography

Last updated date: 09th Apr 2024
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Charles Robert Darwin was a British naturalist best known for developing the theory of evolution through natural selection. Darwin, known as the "Father of Evolutionary Theory," made two significant contributions to the concept of evolution. 

First, Darwin gathered considerable evidence in support of the theory of descent with the change, a kinematic theory that deals with non-causal relationships between things—in other words, it deals with the evolution trend. 

Second, Darwin suggested the theory of natural selection as a mechanism for the observed pattern. This is a complex theory that deals with the evolution process and includes processes and causal relationships.

Charles Darwin Information

Charles Darwin date of birth- February 12, 1809

Charles Darwin Birthplace- The Mount, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England

Charles Darwin death date- April 19, 1882

Charles Darwin Place of Death- Down House, Downe, Kent, England

Resting Place- Westminster Abbey

Spouse- Emma Wedgwood ​(m. 1839)​


About Charles Darwin Biography

Who is Charles Darwin? Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, at The Mount House, in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. He was the fifth of Robert Darwin's six children, and the grandson of Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood, both of whom came from the influential Darwin–Wedgwood family, which supported the Unitarian Church. When he was eight years old, his mother died. The next year, he enrolled at the nearby Shrewsbury School as a "boarder."

Darwin enrolled at Edinburgh University to study medicine in 1825, but his disgust with the cruelty of surgery caused him to abandon his studies. He studied taxidermy with a liberated black slave from South America, and he was enthralled by his stories about the South American rainforest. In his second year, Darwin became active in naturalist student societies. Robert Edmund Grant, who vigorously pursued the ideas of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Charles' grandfather Erasmus about evolution through acquired characteristics, became an ardent follower of Charles.

In March 1827, Darwin gave a presentation to the Plinian Society about his discovery that black spores often found in oyster shells were the eggs of a skate leech. He also sat in on Robert Jameson's natural history class, learning about stratigraphic geology and assisting with work on the collections of Edinburgh University's Museum, which was at the time one of Europe's largest.

His father, dissatisfied that his younger son would not pursue a career as a physician, enrolled him in a Bachelor of Arts course at Christ's College, University of Cambridge, in order to prepare him as a clergyman. This was a wise career choice at a time when Anglicans were well compensated and most naturalists in England were clergymen who saw it as part of their responsibilities to learn about God's existence. 

Darwin preferred riding and shooting to studying at Cambridge. He became engrossed in the new craze for competitive beetle collecting with his cousin William Darwin Fox, and Fox introduced him to the Reverend John Stevens Henslow, professor of botany, for expert advice on beetles. Darwin then enrolled in Henslow's natural history class, where he quickly rose to the position of "favourite student" and was dubbed "the guy who walks with Henslow."

When exams were approaching, he concentrated on his studies and sought private tutoring from Henslow, who specialised in math and theology. William Paley's writings, which contained the argument of divine design in nature, enthralled Darwin in particular. Darwin did well in theology in his final exams in January 1831, and after passing the classics, mathematics, and physics, he finished tenth out of 178 students.

Charles Darwin Information About Journey on the Beagle

The HMS Beagle survey took five years, with two-thirds of that time spent on land by Darwin. He got up close and personal with a wide range of geological features, fossils, and living species, as well as a diverse group of native and colonial people. He meticulously gathered an immense number of specimens, many of which were unknown to science, establishing his reputation as a naturalist and making him one of the forerunners of ecology. His meticulous notes served as the foundation for his subsequent work, providing social, political, and anthropological insights into the places he visited.

Darwin read Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology, which explained features as the result of gradual processes over long periods of time, and wrote home that he was seeing landforms "as if he had the eyes of Lyell": stepped plains of shingle and seashells in Patagonia seemed to be raised beaches; an earthquake raised the land in Chile; and he collected high in the Andes When the Beagle arrived in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, he confirmed his hypothesis that coral atolls form on sinking volcanic mountains.

All About Charles Darwin Career and Development of Theory

While Darwin was still on the ship, Henslow carefully cultivated his former pupil's reputation by providing access to fossil fossils and written copies of Darwin's geological writings to a small group of naturalists. Darwin was a star in scientific circles when the Beagle returned on October 2, 1836. His father arranged investments so that Darwin could become a self-funded gentleman scientist while he visited his home in Shrewsbury. Darwin went to London institutions to find the best naturalists available to classify his other collections for timely publication after visiting Cambridge and persuading Henslow to focus on botanical descriptions of modern plants he had collected.

On October 29, an ecstatic Charles Lyell met Darwin and introduced him to the young anatomist Richard Owen. After working on Darwin's collection of fossil bones at his Royal College of Surgeons, Owen surprised everyone when he revealed that some of the bones were from enormous extinct rodents and sloths. Darwin's credibility was strengthened as a result of this.

Darwin gave his first paper to the Geological Society of London on January 4, 1837, with Lyell's enthusiastic support, arguing that the South American landmass was steadily increasing. Darwin delivered his mammal and bird specimens to the Zoological Society on the same day. 

Lyell used his presidential address to the Geographical Society on February 17, 1837, to present Owen's findings on Darwin's fossils up to that point, highlighting the inference that extinct species were similar to current species in the same locality. Darwin was elected to the Society's Council at the same meeting.

Another project he began was to have the expert reports on his collection published as a multivolume Zoology of the Voyage of HMS Beagle, for which Henslow used his connections to secure a £1,000 treasury grant. Around the 20th of June, Darwin completed his Journal (when King William IV died and the Victorian Era began).

Darwin started his secret "B" notebook on transmutation in mid-July and proposed the theory that each island in the Galápagos Archipelago had its own kind of tortoise, which had evolved from a single tortoise species and adapted to life on the various islands in different ways.

Charles Darwin Scientist and Author

Darwin was now a well-known geologist among the scientific elite of clerical naturalists, with a comfortable lifestyle. He had a lot of work to do, including writing up his observations and hypotheses and overseeing the preparation of a multivolume Zoology to classify his specimens. He was convinced of his theory of evolution, but he had long been aware that species transmutation was synonymous with heresy, as well as radical revolutionary agitators in Britain trying to overthrow society; therefore, publication risked ruining his reputation.

Darwin's Journal and Remarks was a huge success when FitzRoy's account was published in May 1839. Later that year, it was released on its own, and it became a bestseller recognised as The Voyage of the Beagle today. As Emma's first pregnancy advanced in December 1839, Darwin became increasingly ill and achieved nothing the following year.

Darwin attempted to explain his theory to close friends, but they were uninterested and believed that selection needed the intervention of a divine selector. By 1844, Darwin had written a 240-page "Essay" that built on his early theories on natural selection, and he had written a brief "Pencil Sketch" of his theory. If Darwin died before finishing the main work on the subject, he left Emma strict orders to only publish the 1842 and 1844 preliminary sketches of his theory. In 1846, Darwin finished his third Geological journal. Darwin began a comprehensive study of barnacles with the help of his friend, the young botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker. Hooker read the "Essay" in 1847 and sent Darwin notes that gave him the calm critical input he wanted.

About Charles Darwin Marriage and Children

Darwin married his cousin Emma Wedgwood (May 2, 1808 – October 7, 1896) at Maer on January 29, 1839, in an Anglican ceremony that was also suitable for Unitarians.

After living in Gower Street, London, the couple moved to Down House in Downe on September 17, 1842. Three of the Darwins' ten children died as infants. Many of these people, as well as their descendants, will go on to become famous.

Several of their children suffered sickness or weaknesses, and Charles Darwin's concern that this could be due to the closeness of his and Emma’s lineage was reflected in his writings on the ill effects of inbreeding and the advantages of the crossing.

Charles Darwin Famous Theory: Announcement and Publication

Lyell read a paper on the introduction of species by Alfred Russel Wallace, a naturalist working in Borneo, in the spring of 1856, and encouraged Darwin to publish his theory to set precedent. Despite his illness, Darwin persisted in collecting specimens and knowledge from naturalists such as Wallace and Asa Gray. Darwin received a letter from Wallace in December 1857, asking if he would include a chapter on human origins in his Natural Selection manuscript.

On June 18, 1858, he received a paper from Wallace outlining the evolutionary process, along with instructions to forward it to Lyell. Though Wallace had not requested publication, Darwin did so, surprised that he had been "forestalled," and offered to give it to any journal Wallace wanted. Darwin entrusted the matter to Lyell, who suggested that Wallace's manuscript and a few of Darwin's shorter works be read at an upcoming Linnean Society of London meeting and then published. Two of Darwin's children became ill during these debates, and one of them, Charles Waring, died, so Darwin retired and left it to Lyell.

Darwin battled illness for the next 13 months in order to complete the abstract of his "major book on species." Darwin completed his abstract after receiving relentless support from his scientific colleagues, and Lyell arranged for it to be published by John Murray. On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection was chosen as the title, and when the book went on sale to the trade on November 22, 1859, the stock of 1,250 copies was quickly depleted.

Darwin avoided using the terms "evolution" or "evolve" at the time because "evolutionism" meant creation without divine interference, but the book concludes with the statement that "endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved." The book only made a passing reference to the possibility that humans will evolve in the same way as other species. "Light will be shed on the roots of man and his origins," Darwin wrote, deliberately understated.

FAQs on Charles Darwin Biography

1. How Many Books Did Charles Darwin Author?

Ans. Charles Darwin has written quite a few books, the most famous one being The Origin of Species. Some other books are-

  • Voyage of the Beagle

  • The Descent of Man

  • The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809–82

  • The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals

  • On Natural Selection

  • The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms with Observations on Their Habits

  • It was Snowing Butterflies

  • The Galapagos Islands

  • Evolutionary Writings: Including the Autobiographies

  • Darwin: The Indelible Stamp

2. State the Charles Darwin Evolution Facts.

Ans. Individuals of a species are not identical; genes are passed down from generation to generation; more offspring are born than can survive; and only the winners of the resource rivalry can reproduce, according to Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Individual differences offer certain members of the species an advantage in the fight to live and reproduce. Those beneficial characteristics can be passed on to the next generation.