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The Autobiography of Charles Darwin: a biography of the author of The Origin of Species

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The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

Scientist Biographies

About the Author
  • Charles Robert Darwin was born in 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. At Cambridge University he formed a friendship with J. S. Henslow, a professor of botany, and that association, along with his enthusiasm for collecting beetles, led to "a burning zeal," as he wrote in his Autobiography, for the natural sciences. A voyage to the Southern Hemisphere on the H.M.S. Beagle between 1831 and 1836 would lay the foundation for The Origin of Species, published in 1859.
  • His other works include The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871) and Recollections of My Mind and Character, also titled Autobiography (1887). Charles Darwin's Diary of the Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle was published posthumously in 1933.

By the time I went to this day-school (...) my taste for natural history, and more especially for collecting, was well developed. I tried to make out the names of plants (...) and collected all sorts of things, shells, seals, franks, coins, and minerals. The passion for collecting which leads a man to be a systematic naturalist, a virtuoso, or a miser, was very strong in me, and was clearly innate, as none of my sisters or brother ever had this taste. But no pursuit at Cambridge was followed with nearly so much eagerness or gave me so much pleasure as collecting beetles. It was the mere passion for collecting, for I did not dissect them, and rarely compared their external characters with published descriptions, but got them named anyhow. During my last year at Cambridge, I read with care and profound interest Humboldt's 'Personal Narrative.' This work, and Sir J. Herschel's 'Introduction to the Study of Natural Philosophy, ' stirred up in me a burning zeal to add even the most humble contribution to the noble structure of Natural Science. - Taken from "The Autobiography of Charles Darwin"

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