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Charles Darwin: His Life, Family, Friends, and Critics

Charles Darwin: His Life, Family, Friends, and Critics

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Charles Darwin: His Life, Family, Friends, and Critics

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  1. Charles Darwin: His Life, Family, Friends, and Critics Laurent Hodges College for Seniors, Fall 2008

  2. Outline of this Course • Brief biography of Charles Darwin’s whole life • Biology before Darwin time (Linnaeus, etc.) • Geology before Darwin’s time (Hutton, etc.) • Darwin’s early life, to 1831 (age 22) • The Voyage of the HMS Beagle 1831 – 1836 • Scientific work 1837 – 1858 • Publication and reception of On the Origin of Species (1859) • Darwin’s later work • The fall and rise of “Darwinism”

  3. Part of the Darwin-Wedgwood Family

  4. Darwin’s Grandfathers: His Paternal Grandfather • Noted and wealthy physician • Offered (but declined) post of Royal Physician by George III • Poet and proto-evolutionist • Father of at least 14 children with two wives and one mistress • Father of Robert Waring Darwin (Charles Darwin’s father) • A son named Charles Darwin died at the age of 20 Erasmus Darwin (1731 – 1802)

  5. Darwin’s Grandfathers: His Maternal Grandfather • Noted pottery designer • Founder of the Wedgwood firm (1759) • Father of Susanna Wedgwood (Charles Darwin’s mother) • Father of Josiah Wedgwood II (“Uncle Jos” ) • Prominent in anti-slavery movement Josiah Wedgwood (1730 – 1795)

  6. Darwin’s Parents Father: Robert Waring Darwin (1766 – 1848) Son of Erasmus Darwin Physician and lender (for mortgages) Mother: Susanna Wedgwood Darwin (1765 – 1817) Daughter of Josiah Wedgwood I Brother of Josiah Wedgwood II

  7. Robert and Erasmus Darwin: son and father

  8. Children of Robert and Susanna Darwin • Marianne Darwin (1798-1858) • Caroline Darwin (1800-1888) – married Josiah Wedgwood III • Susan Elizabeth Darwin (1803-1866) • Erasmus Alvey Darwin (1804-1881) – Darwin’s only brother • Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882) • Emily Catherine Darwin (1810-1866) • When Darwin’s mother died in 1817, his older sisters (then 19, 17, and 14) acted as substitute mothers.

  9. Erasmus Alvey Darwin (1804 – 1881) Older brother of Charles Darwin Studied medicine, but didn’t really want to practice it. His father then pensioned him off at the age of 26, and he neither did any work nor accomplished anything significant in his lifetime. He was just a “gentleman of leisure.”

  10. Charles Darwin (at age of nine) and his younger sister Catherine.

  11. Three Main Parts of Charles Darwin’s Life 1809 – 1831: Age 0 - 22 Childhood, education, college 1831 – 1836: Age 22 to 27 Voyaging on the HMS Beagle 1836 – 1882: Age 27 to 73 Scientist and author (geology, experimental and evolutionary biology)

  12. Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, shown on these maps.

  13. The Mount, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England Charles Darwin’s childhood home and his birthplace.

  14. Darwin’s Schooling 1817 – 1818: Attended day-school of Reverend Case 1818 – 1825: Attended Shrewsbury School, a boarding school run by Dr. Samuel Butler (grandfather of the Samuel Butler who wrote Erewhon and The Way of All Flesh). He could readily walk back home from this school, although he was a boarder. 1825 – 1827: Studied medicine (mostly) at University of Edinburgh, where his father and brother had studied, but discovered medicine was not to his liking. 1828 – 1831: Attended and graduated from Cambridge University, intending to become a clergyman.

  15. The Voyage of the HMS Beagle In 1831 Darwin serendipitously became the naturalist companion of Captain Robert FitzRoy on the round-the-world voyage of the HMS Beagle, a voyage that lasted nearly five years, until late 1836, and included explorations of east and west coasts of South America – including Brazil, Argentina, Tierra del Fuego, Chile, and the Galapagos Islands – plus stops at many other places, including Australia and South Africa. Darwin collected many specimens and took copious notes on this voyage, publishing a book about his travels to accompany two volumes written by FitzRoy.

  16. Voyage of the HMS Beagle, 1831 – 1836

  17. 1836 – 1839 Back in London, Darwin became a well-known scientist/ naturalist, more of a geologist than a biologist. However, he began several notebooks on biology and evolution, having become convinced that species were not immutable but changed and evolved. In 1838 he read Thomas Malthus’ essay on population and conceived the importance of natural selection in evolution. In 1839 he married his first cousin. Emma Wedgwood, and they had 10 children born between 1841 and 1854.

  18. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection Organisms change in time, usually very slowly (sometimes extremely slowly), or evolve. Darwin wrote of “descent with modification” but the modern term is “evolution.” All organisms – animals, plants, fungi, all organisms – are descended from a remote common ancestor. The main (but not only) driving force for evolutionary change is natural selection, the survival of certain traits because they better adapt the organism for its survival. Natural selection doesn’t just select against inferior organisms, it selects for superior organisms and leads to even more superior organisms.

  19. The Children of Charles and Emma Darwin 1839, December 27 William Erasmus Darwin (1839 – 1914) 1841, March 2 Anne “Annie” Elizabeth (1841 – 1851) 1842, September 23 Mary Eleanor; died on October 16. 1843, September 25 Henrietta “Etty” Emma (1843 – 1930) 1845, July 9 George Howard (1845 – 1912) 1847, July 8 Elizabeth (1847 – 1926) 1848, August 16 Francis (1848 – 1925) 1850, January 15 Leonard (1850 – 1943) 1851, May 13 Horace (1852 – 1928) 1856, December 6 Charles Waring (1856 – 1858) Emma’s age at the births of her ten children were 31, 32, 34, 35, 37, 39, 40, 41, 44, and 48.

  20. 1839 – 1858 In 1842 and 1844 Darwin wrote out a brief and then a longer sketch of his theory of evolution through natural selection, but did not publish them. He left directions for Emma Darwin to have the 1844 essay published should anything happen to him. After a considerable amount of work on biological organisms (especially barnacles) Darwin was convinced by Charles Lyell in 1856 to begin writing a major work on evolution, never finished. This writing was interrupted in 1858 by the arrival of a letter from Alfred Russel Wallace accompanied by a paper on evolution by natural selection – almost identical to Darwin’s theory.

  21. 1858 – 1859 At the suggestion of Hooker and Lyell, presentations were made at the Linnean Society on July 1, 1858, of Wallace’s paper simultaneously with two articles by Darwin. Shortly thereafter, Darwin began work on On the Origin of Species, essentially an abridged version of the large book he was working on. Its publication in late 1859 was a sensation in the scientific world, and biology was never the same. The book had tremendous impact on science, philosophy, and the way humans viewed the world and their place in it. Thomas Henry Huxley, particularly, proselytized for Darwin’s ideas, but Darwin had other prominent supporters.

  22. 1860 – 1882 Darwin continued working and writing the rest of his life (22 more years). Many ideas that were omitted from On the Origin of Species (such as the animal ancestry of humans) or only briefly mentioned (such as sexual selection and the expression of the emotions) became the subject of other books. Darwin received several scientific awards, but was never knighted. When he died in April 1882, however, he was buried in Westminster Abbey in London.

  23. Darwin’s major books 1839 – Voyage of the Beagle 1851 – 1854 – Living and Fossil Cirripedia 1859 –On the Origin of Species 1862 – On the Various Contrivances by which British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilised by Insects 1865 – On the Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants 1868 – The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication 1871 –The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex 1872 – The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals 1875 – Insectivorous Plants 1876 – The Effects of Cross and Self Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom 1877 – The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species 1880 – The Power of Movement in Plants (with son Francis Darwin) 1881 – The Formation of Vegetable Mould, Through the Action of Worms

  24. Darwin’s Reputation after his death • The fact of evolution was well established and believed by all biologists. • Natural selection was considered the most important cause of evolution by very few biologists, notably Alfred Russel Wallace in England and August Weismann in Germany. Many other biologists were “saltationists,” believing in the role of major sudden changes (as by large mutations). • Gradualism was not accepted because physicists argued against the earth being old enough for evolution to have occurred through small steps over long periods of time.

  25. Darwin’s Reputation (continued)… • Until about 1900, inheritance was poorly understood, and the favored theory of “blending inheritance” or “soft inheritance” was not capable of leading to the evolutionary changes required by Darwin’s theory. This changed after geneticists (beginning with Mendel in 1865) showed inheritance to be “particulate” or “hard.” • About 1930 the concept of gradualism was received more favorably, and the geneticists and naturalists found out how their approaches meshed, leading to the “Modern (Darwinian) Synthesis.” • The discovery in the last half of the 20th century of the role of DNA and genes largely completed the triumph of Darwin’s ideas.

  26. Key Dates in the Life of Charles Darwin 1809 – Born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England 1831 – Graduated from Cambridge University and left on his five-year voyage aboard the HMS Beagle. 1836 – Returned from his voyage and became known as a scientist in London, befriended by Lyell and others. 1838 – Read Thomas Malthus and realized the importance of natural selection in evolution. 1839 – Married to his first cousin Emma Wedgwood; published his Voyage of the Beagle. 1858 – Presentation of Wallace-Darwin papers to Linnean Society. 1859 – Publication of On the Origin of Species 1871 – Publication of The Descent of Man, Selection in Relation to Sex. 1882 – Died; buried at Westminster Abbey, London.