The Darwin collection

Poster from the Museum’s Darwin exhibition

Poster from the Museum's Darwin exhibition

Charles Darwin embarked on a five-year voyage aboard HMS Beagle in 1831.

The ship sailed to South America to carry out hydrographic surveying work. Darwin explored the continent's remote regions, collecting plants, animals and fossils, and taking copious notes. These collections and records informed his emerging ideas about evolution by natural selection and helped form the basis of of his theory of evolution by natural selection.

In 2006, the Museum Library acquired the largest collection of works by and about Darwin in existence. Although Darwin did not have a formal connection to the Museum, his work underpins all modern research in evolutionary biology, which is a major area of study for our scientists. The Darwin collection also contains secondary resources for researchers studying Darwin and evolution.

The collection comprises 1,628 works written by Darwin in a range of languages. It features a number of different editions of various works, including 477 versions of On the Origin of Species.

You can view 330 of the collection's titles online for free through the Biodiversity Heritage Library thanks to a digitisation project by the Museum in collaboration with Cambridge University Library, the American Natural History Museum and the Biodiversity Heritage Library.