Charles Darwin stands as a towering figure in science, who changed the direction of modern thought in establishing the basis of evolutionary biology. These letters offer a fascinating window onto his daily experience, scientific observations, personal concerns and friendships, affording a unique glimpse of Darwin as both naturalist and family man. From his early years at Edinburgh University up to the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859, the letters in this volume chart the most exciting years of Darwin's life, including the voyage of the Beagle and the subsequent findings which led to his theory of natural selection. The Cambridge Edition of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin (winner of the first Morton N. Cohen Award for a Distinguished Edition of Letters) has been hailed as a monumental edition and a triumph of post-war publishing. This selected edition, introduced by Stephen Jay Gould, makes these engaging letters newly available.
Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury in 1809 and was educated at Shrewsbury School, Edinburgh University and Christ's College Cambridge. He took his degree in 1831 and in the same year embarked on a five-year voyage on HMS Beagle as a companion to the captain; the purpose of the voyage was to chart the coasts of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, and to carry a chain of chronometric readings round the world.
While he was away some of his letters on scientific matters were privately published, and on his return he at once took his place among the leading men of science. In 1839 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Most of the rest of his life was occupied in publishing the findings of the voyage and in documenting his theory of the transmutation of species. On the origin of species by means of natural selection appeared in 1859.
Darwin spent many years with his wife - his cousin Emma Wedgwood, whom he had married in 1839 - and their children at Down House in Kent. He died in 1882, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.