Artefact of the month - March 2009
Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure
and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836,
describing their examination of the southern shores of South America and the Beagle's circumnavigation of the globe.
Vol. III. Journal and remarks, 1832-1836, by Charles Darwin.
London : Colburn, 1839.
To celebrate World Book Day on 5th March we are featuring this volume by Charles Darwin giving details the time he spent on H.M.S. Beagle as it voyaged around the world from 1832 to 1836. It is particularly timely as we celebrated 200 years since his birth on 12 February and soon we will be celebrating and 150 years since the publication of On the origin of species.
The voyage of H.M.S. Beagle was a landmark experience in Darwin’s life. In his autobiography he wrote `the voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event in my life and has determined my whole career’. Following this five year voyage around the world he never left Britain again. The animals he observed and collected on the Galapagos in particular provided him with some of the evidence for the development of the theory of evolution
Volume I of the `Narrative’ was mainly by Captain Parker King who commanded the first expedition of 1826-1830. Volume II contains Captain FitzRoy’s account of the second voyage, 1831-1836 with extracts of reports from other members of the crew. There is also an appendix to Volume II which contains some fascinating details including meteorological tables, reports and letters of Captain FitzRoy.
ZSL is fortunate in having a copy of the first and second issues of `Darwin’s journal’, both of these were published in 1839.
`Darwin’s journal’ gives details about the places visited and the geology and natural history of each location. For example on 4 March 1835 they entered the harbour of Concepcion to find there had been a huge earthquake in their absence, Darwin goes on to describe the changes to the landscape and to speculate more widely on the nature of earthquakes.
Visitors are often surprised by the number of volumes ZSL Library holds reporting on expeditions and exploration generally. Many new animal species have been reported for the first time in `expedition literature’ hence these volumes make a valuable contribution to the zoological literature and knowledge
All ZSL Library’s holdings of published books by and about Charles Darwin are listed in our online catalogue
The images of finches were published in The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle under the command of Captain Fitzroy, R.N., during the years 1832 to 1836; edited and superintended by Charles Darwin [and others], Part III. Birds by John Gould,1841.