About the author
Charles Robert Darwin,F.R.S. (February 12, 1809 - April19, 1882) was a revolutionary English naturalist who laid thefoundation for both the moderntheory of evolution and the prin-ciple of common descent by pro-posing natural selection as amechanism. He published thisproposal in 1859 in the book TheOrigin of Species, which remainshis most famous work. A world- wide sea voyage aboard the HMSBeagle and observations on theGalapagos Islands in particularprovided inspiration and much of the data on which he based histheory.Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, onthe same day as Abraham Lincoln. He was the fifth of six children of Robert and Susannah Darwin (née Wedgwood), and the grandson of Erasmus Darwin, and of Josiah Wedgwood.After finishing school, Darwin studied medicine in Edinburgh in1825. His dislike for dissection and the brutality of surgery at the timeled him to leave the medical school in 1827. Whilst there, however, he was influenced by the Lamarckian Robert Edmund Grant.His father, unhappy that his younger son had not become a physi-cian and fearing that he would become a "ne'er do well", enrolled himat Christ's College, Cambridge, with the hopes of Charles' eventually becoming a parson. He preferred riding and shooting to studying, but while at Cambridge, he came under the intellectual influence of scien-tific minds such as William Whewell and John Stevens Henslow which(combined with his interest in collecting beetles, which was encour-aged by his cousin, William Darwin Fox) resulted in him pursuingnatural history.After taking his degree with honours, Darwin stayed at Cam-bridge for further studies in geology, where he proved particularly adept.In the summer of 1831, Darwin worked with the great geologist AdamSedgwick mapping strata in Wales.Darwin had planned to visit Madeira with some class-mates upongraduation in 1831. These plans, however, fell through. After Darwinfinished his studies, Henslow recommended him for the position of naturalist and gentleman's companion to Robert Fitzroy, the captain of the HMS Beagle, which was departing on a five-year expedition tochart the coastline of South America. His father objected to the expe-dition, thinking it a waste of his son's time, but was eventually per-suaded to let him go.