Young Charles Darwin | Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution by natural selection

Young Charles Darwin

Young Charles Darwin: student, naturalist and gardener

Peter D. A. Boyd

Web version of

BOYD, P.D.A. 2009. 'The Young Charles Darwin - student, naturalist and gardener'. In Proceedings of International Conference Bioscience and Society: Biodiversity - Diversity of Living Systems. Ljubljana, Slovenia / Mednarodni posvet Biološka Znanost in Družba: Biodiverziteta – Raznolikost Živih Sistemov with colour versions of images and some extra images with captions that were not included in the original publication]

Charles Darwin (aged about 6 years)

[©English Heritage Photo Library By kind permission of Darwin Heirlooms Trust].


Charles Darwin was one of the most important scientists who ever lived. He was born in 1809 (200 years ago) in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. He was fortunate to have a wealthy father who was a doctor and be part of an intelligent and educated family. He lived in a large house called 'The Mount' with servants and a large garden, on the edge of the town and open countryside. ht previously by his mother, brother and sisters. Many poor children of his age never had the opportunity to attend school. However, he was unfortunate because his mother died soon after he started at day school. He was sent to Shrewsbury Grammar School as a boarder for seven years where he studied Latin and Greek but little that interested him. Science was not taught in schools at that time but Charles developed his knowledge by collecting natural history specimens and helping his older brother with Chemistry experiments at home. nformation in the garden and surgery, assisting with his patients and diagnosing illnesses. This prepared him for Edinburgh University where he studied to become a doctor but he 'dropped out' because he did not like operations or dissections and was sent to Cambridge University to train for The Church (to become a priest). However, both in Edinburgh and Cambridge he disliked lectures, preferring to read about the subjects in books and spent most of his time having a good time with his friends and collecting beetles. However, he worked hard enough to pass examinations and achieved a good Bachelor of Arts Degree as a first step to becoming a clergyman. onders of God's Creation) was considered an appropriate pastime for a clergyman! He was recommended for the role of ship's naturalist on the survey ship 'The Beagle' because of his natural history skills and because he was 'a gentleman' of the right social background to be the captain's companion. His self-motivated study of plants, animals and rocks commenced as a child in Shrewsbury and encouraged at last by perceptive teachers, propelled him into a new direction. However, his five year voyage on The Beagle around the world and his subsequent life of research would have been impossible if his father had not supported him financially and later, when he married, invested a large sum of money, the income from which supported his research, wife and family. He had been raised in a one-parent family and did not do well at school where his interests were dismissed as a waste of time. However, he had the support of his family and eventually, at university, found the support...

Peachtree Publishers Young Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle
Book (Peachtree Publishers)

Charles Darwin and the secrets of the Galapagos Islands  — ABC Online
The Galapagos Islands are famous for their abundance of wildlife, which inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Robyn Williams retraces Darwin's footsteps and discovers that not all that much has changed off the coast of Ecuador.

Yale University Press The Young Charles Darwin
Book (Yale University Press)
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