On topics ranging from intelligent design and climate change to the politics of gender and race, the evolutionary writings of Charles Darwin occupy a pivotal position in contemporary public debate.
This volume brings together the key chapters of his most important and accessible books, including the Journal of Researches on the Beagle voyage (1845), The Origin of Species (1859), and The Descent of Man (1871), along with the full text of his delightful autobiography.
They are accompanied by generous selections of responses from Darwin’s nineteenth-century readers from across the world. More than anything, they give a keen sense of the controversial nature of Darwin’s ideas, and his position within Victorian debates about man’s place in nature.
Click on the links in this audio guide, to hear the editor of the anthology, James A. Secord, Director of the Darwin Correspondence Project, introduce Darwin’s life and work - and its enduring impact two hundred years after his birth.
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From beginnings to The Voyage of the Beagle
World of Science
- Some of the ideas that Darwin became interested in fell outside the sphere of respectable ideas for a Victorian man of science.
Hear more about his secret notebooks [0:58]
- Darwin entered the world of science at a time of huge ferment. In fact, the world “scientist” dates only from 1833, two years after Darwin set off on the Beagle voyage.
Hear more about that changing world [1:31]
The Origin of Species
The Descent of Man & and the ascent of Charles Darwin