Easily the most influential book published in the nineteenth century, Darwin's The Origin of Species is also that most unusual phenomenon, an altogether readable discussion of a scientific subject. On its appearance in 1859 it was immediately recognized by enthusiasts and detractors alike as a work of the greatest importance: its revolutionary theory of evolution by means of natural selection provoked a furious reaction that continues to this day.
The Origin of Species is here published together with Darwin's earlier Voyage of the Beagle. This 1839 account of the journeys to South America and the Pacific islands that first put Darwin on the track of his remarkable theories derives an added charm from his vivid description of his travels in exotic places and his eye for the piquant detail.
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About the Author
CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN was born in 1809 in Shrewsbury, England, to a wealthy intellectual family, his grandfather being the famous physician Erasmus Darwin. 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 hisAutobiography, for the natural sciences. When Henslow obtained for him the post of naturalist on H.M.S.Beagle, the course of his life was fixed. The five-year-long voyage to the Southern Hemisphere between 1831 and 1836 would lay the foundation for his ideas about evolution and natural selection. Upon his return Darwin lived in London before retiring to his residence at Down, a secluded village in Kent. For the next forty years he conducted his research there and wrote the works that would change human understanding forever. Knowing of the resistance from the orthodox scientific and religious communities, Darwin publishedThe Origin of Speciesin 1859 only when another naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, independently reached the same conclusions. His other works includeThe Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex(1871) andRecollections of My Mind and Character, also titledAutobiography(1887). Charles Darwin sDiary of the Voyage of the H.M.S. Beaglewas published posthumously in 1933. Darwin died in 1882; he is buried in Westminster Abbey."