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Charles Darwin Biography

The Life of Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin was born on Feb. 12. His full name is Charles Robert Darwin. He died on April 19,1882.Darwin was an English naturalist known for his theory of evolution and for its operation, known as Darwinism. His evolutionary theories, mostly in two works: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859) and The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)-have had an important influence on scientific thought.

Charles was the son of Robert Darwin, who had one of the largest medical practices outside of London, and the grandson of the physician Erasmus Darwin, and of the artisan-entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood. Darwin enjoyed a secure position in the upper middle class that provided him with social and professional advantages. Darwin's mother died when he was eight years old. He enjoyed a fairly good childhood with his sisters and an older brother.

During school he was interested in specimen collecting and chemical investigations. Though while at the Shrewsbury school, where he was an uninspired student, Dr. Samuel Butler, publicly criticized Darwin for wasting his time with chemical experiments. At age 16 he was sent to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh, where he was disgusted by surgery performed without anesthetics. During his two years in Scotland, Darwin benefited from a friendship with the zoologist Robert Grant, who introduced him to the study of marine animals.<Tab/> Disappointed by Darwin's lack of interest for medicine, his father sent him to the University of Cambridge in 1827 to study divinity. At the time Darwin remained true to the standard beliefs of the Church of England. He enjoyed hunting, shooting, riding, and sporting friends. Guided by his older cousin William Darwin Fox, Darwin met the circle of Cambridge scientists led by the botanist John Stevens Henslow. Soon a regular at Henslow's open houses, Henslow encouraged Darwin's interest in science and confidence in his own abilities.

On leaving Cambridge in the spring of 1831 Darwin, at Henslow's recommendation he accompanied Adam Sedgwick, professor of geology at Cambridge, on a three-week tour of North Wales to learn geologic fieldwork. In August 1831, at Henslow's recommendation to the Admiralty, Darwin was invited to sail as the naturalist on HMS Beagle. The ship was to survey the east and west coasts of South America and continue to the Pacific. At first Darwin's father refused permission because it was dangerous and would not advance...

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