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Charles Darwin
Three quarter length studio photo showing Darwin’s characteristic large forehead and bushy eyebrows with deep set eyes, pug nose and mouth set in a determined look. He is bald on top, with dark hair and long side whiskers but no beard or moustache. His jacket is dark, with very wide lapels, and his trousers are a light check pattern. His shirt has an upright wing collar, and his cravat is tucked into his waistcoat which is a light fine checked pattern.
Darwin, c. 1854, when he was preparing On the Origin of Species for publication1
Born Charles Robert Darwin
12 February 1809
The Mount, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England
Died 19 April 1882 (aged 73)
Down House, Downe, Kent, England
Known for The Voyage of the Beagle
On the Origin of Species
Spouse(s) Emma Wedgwood (m. 1839)
Children 10
FRS (1839)2
Royal Medal (1853)
Wollaston Medal (1859)
Copley Medal (1864)
Doctor of Laws (Honorary), Cambridge (1877)3
Scientific career
Fields Natural history, geology
Tertiary education:
University of Edinburgh Medical School (medicine, no degree)
Christ’s College, Cambridge Bachelor of Arts (1831)
Master of Arts (1836)4

Professional institution:
Geological Society of London
Academic advisors John Stevens Henslow
Adam Sedgwick
Influences Charles Lyell
Alexander von Humboldt
John Herschel
Thomas Malthus
Influenced Hooker, Huxley, Romanes, Haeckel, Lubbock
“Charles Darwin”, with the surname underlined by a downward curve that mimics the curve of the initial “C”
Charles Robert Darwin, FRS FRGS FLS FZS2 (/?d??rw?n/;5 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist,6 best known for his contributions to the science of evolution.I He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors7 and, in a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace, introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.8

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Darwin published his theory of evolution with compelling evidence in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species, overcoming scientific rejection of earlier concepts of transmutation of species.910 By the 1870s, the scientific community and a majority of the educated public had accepted evolution as a fact. However, many favoured competing explanations and it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed in which natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution.1112 Darwin’s scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life.1314

Darwin’s early interest in nature led him to neglect his medical education at the University of Edinburgh; instead, he helped to investigate marine invertebrates. Studies at the University of Cambridge (Christ’s College) encouraged his passion for natural science.15 His five-year voyage on HMS Beagle established him as an eminent geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell’s uniformitarian ideas, and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author.16

Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin began detailed investigations, and in 1838 conceived his theory of natural selection.17 Although he discussed his ideas with several naturalists, he needed time for extensive research and his geological work had priority.18 He was writing up his theory in 1858 when Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay that described the same idea, prompting immediate joint publication of both of their theories.19 Darwin’s work established evolutionary descent with modification as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature.11 In 1871 he examined human evolution and sexual selection in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, followed by The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872). His research on plants was published in a series of books, and in his final book, The Formation of Vegetable Mould, through the Actions of Worms (1881), he examined earthworms and their effect on soil.2021

Darwin has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history,22 and he was honoured by burial in Westminster Abbey.

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