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

Charles Darwin father

Charles Darwin, father of… shrubbery?

American polymath Benjamin Franklin, 10th and youngest son of a working-class family, had to leave school at age 10. Sir Ernest Shackleton was invalided out during his first Antarctic trek; he was later marked for heroism in saving the crew of Endurance. Marie Curie (a.k.a. aria Sklodowska) was refused entry by Krakow University because she was female, and went on to win Nobel Prizes in two disciplines.

The history of discovery is littered with hard-fought battles just to get on the bus, so to speak. Charles Darwin’s story was no exception – his father was dead set against him him traipsing around the world, listing eight objections which included: “Disreputable to [his] character as a Clergyman hereafter… a wild scheme… a useless undertaking.”

…Not all the plant-hunters – pioneering botanist Carl Linnaeus among them – struggled to be taken seriously, and it must have been tempting for the 22-year-old Darwin to give up – especially when his father said rather unkindly that many others had surely been asked first but refused because of some problem with the ship or journey.

In January, the Kew Archive opened for a rare behind-the-scenes look at the letters, tools and plant specimens brought back by great British plant-hunters; definitely worth a look, we thought…

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