Charles Darwin (12 February 1809 to 19 April 1882)

Timeline created by Jennifer W.
  • Birth of Charles Darwin

    Charles Darwin was born on 12 February 1809, to Dr. Robert Darwin, a well-known country physician and Susannah Wedgewood Darwin. He was the fifth of six children.
  • Charles Darwin attends Christ's College, Cambridge University (1828 - 1831)

    Charles Darwin, repulsed by medical operations, left his studies at Edinburgh University and enrolled in Christ's College at Cambridge University in 1828 to earn a degree in theology. He became friends with and made a great impression upon John Henslow, a botany professor, and Adam Sedgwick, a geology professor. Upon Darwin's graduation in 1831, Professor Henslow recommended Darwin to Captain Robert FitzRoy for his upcoming voyage to South America. (Ruse, 4)
  • Voyage on the HMS Beagle (September 1831 to October 1836)

    Beginning in September of 1831, Charles Darwin served as a naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle with Captain Robert FitzRoy for what was a projected two-year voyage to map the coastline of South America. (McClellan, III and Dorn, 329)
    The trip itself turned into a five year voyage. During this time, Charles Darwin collected fossils, various plant and animal specimens and made acute observations of the physical variations of animals of which he encountered.
  • The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle (1838)

    Charles Darwin, upon his return to England, edited a 5-part book, unbound in 19 numbers which were published as they were finished. Darwin provided his edits and insights on the works in the following books:
    Part 1. Fossil Mammalia - (1838-1840) by Richard Owen
    Part 2. Mammalia (1838 – 1839), by George R. Waterhouse
    Part 3. Birds (1838 – 1841), by John Gould
    Part 4. Fish (1840 – 1842), by Leonard Jenyns
    Part 5. Reptiles (1842 – 1843), by Thomas Bell
  • Charles Darwin authors The Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle Volume 3 (1839)

    Charles Darwin compiled his findings from his travels with the HMS Beagle into Volume 3 of The Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, published in 1839. In his writings, Darwin describes the type of environment, the topography, and the plants and animals that he observed at the various points along his travels. ( These findings, including those from his travels to the Galapagos Islands, helped build his theories about evolution, natural selection and the origins of species.
  • Darwin publishes On the Origins of Species (1859)

    Charles Darwin, received a letter in June of 1858 from Alfred Russel Wallace, a fellow naturalist, on his thoughts about evolution. Out of fear of losing credit, Darwin finished compiling his findings in his work titled, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859.
    Prior to the book's publication, an announcement at the Linnanaean Society was made where both Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace were recognized as co-discoverers of the theory. (McClellen, III and Dorn, 333)
  • Insight into Darwin's On the Origin of Species

    In his famous work, Charles Darwin broke his idea into three phases or parts - evolution, natural selection, and origin. He said that certain traits that helped a species survive were preserved by way of natural selection. Darwin also stated that animals from one species could evolve and change based on their environment, eventually leading to a new species. The following video titled Darwin's Theories helps explain these ideas.

  • The Descent of Man (1871)

    Charles Darwin, after writing about the evolution and natural selection of plants and animals, turned his focus on man. In The Descent of Man, which was published in 1871, Darwin tied mankind to its ape-like ancestors. He remarked that mankind's evolution over time led to our physical appearance and the development of our instincts, behaviors, intellect and emotions. (McClellen, III and Dorn, 336)
  • Death of Charles Darwin

    Charles Darwin died on 19 April 1882 due to angina or heart failure, though there is still speculation that his death was caused by Chagas disease.