The major works of Charles Darwin

The great English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) revolutionized our understanding of life on earth. This site contains all of his works and most of his private papers. Click the links below to access them.
Click the finch icon Click to see illustrations next to each work to see all of its illustrations or maps.

This page provides only the major works, for a complete list of his writings see Publications and Manuscripts.


Journal of Researches

Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. 2d edition. 1845. Click to see illustrations
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This is Darwin's classic account describing his travels and discoveries during the five-year Beagle voyage (often called 'Voyage of the Beagle').

'Nothing can be more improving to a young naturalist, than a journey in a distant country'

'The natural history of these islands is eminently curious, and well deserves attention...we seem to be brought somewhere near to that great fact—that mystery of mysteries—the first appearance of new beings on this earth.'

Galapagos iguana

Galapagos iguana

Galapagos finches

Galapagos finches

On the Origin of Species

On the origin of species by means of natural selection. 1859. Click to see illustrations
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Darwin's most famous work, and one of the most important ever written. It revolutionized our understanding of life on earth. Darwin brings together many convincing kinds of evidence and arguments to show that living things change over time and that they are related to one another genealogically.

'When the views entertained in this volume on the origin of species, or when analogous views are generally admitted, we can dimly forsee that there will be a considerable revolution in natural history.'

'It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinising, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working'

Diagram from the Origin of Species

Diagram from the Origin of Species depicting branching descent with modification.

The descent of man. 1871. Click to see illustrations
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Volume 2. Text Image
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In this work Darwin demonstrates that the difference between mankind and animals is not one of kind, but of degree. He also argues that sexual selection explains human racial differences.

'The early progenitors of man were no doubt once covered with hair, both sexes having beards; their ears were pointed and capable of movement; and their bodies were provided with a tail…and were arboreal in their habits'

Fig. 1. Upper figure human embryo, from Ecker. Lower figure that of a dog, from Bischoff.

The expression of the emotions in man and animals. 1872. Click to see illustrations Text Image PDF

In this highly original and illustrated work, Darwin demonstrated the outstanding parallels in the way humans and animals express emotions.

Plate II. from Expression


Other writings available only on Darwin Online

The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882. With the original omissions restored. 1958. Click to see illustrations
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The most charming account of Darwin's life, written for his children.

'my love of natural science has been steady and ardent. This pure love has, however, been much aided by the ambition to be esteemed by my fellow naturalists.'

[Darwin's Beagle Diary (1831-1836)] Text

This is the unpublished diary Darwin kept on the Beagle and later used to write Voyage of the Beagle.

'Nothing can be more beautiful than the view from our present anchorage...'

[Darwin's 'Journal' (1809-1881)] Introduction Text

Darwin's daily diary of his life and work.

'In July opened first note Book on "transmutation of Species". — Had been greatly struck from about month of previous March on character of S. American fossils—& species on Galapagos Archipelago. — These facts origin (especially latter) of all my views.'
 

[Darwin's] 'Things for a week' (5.1859). Introduction Text

Darwin's list of all the things he would need to take with him on holiday, all the way down to his tooth brush.

'Cigars. Spare Watch & Spectacles. Book to read. (Watch stand)'
Emma Darwin's diaries

Emma Darwin's Diaries (1824-1896) Introduction Image

There are sixty diaries covering the years 1824, 1833-4, 1839-45 and 1848-96.

Emma recorded many events such as visits and visitors, dinners and the health of her family including her husband.

 

 

A virtual bookshelf of the works of Charles Darwin. Click on a book to open it.

Zoology of the Beagle 1838-1843Voyage of the Beagle, 1st edition 1839Coral reefsVolcanic islandsGeology of South AmericaBarnacles vol. 1Barnacles vol. 2Origin 1st ed.Orchids
Variation vol. 1
Variation vol. 2Descent vol. 1 1871Descent vol. 2 1871ExpressionUnsectivorousClimbing plants 2nd ed.Fertilisation of OrchidsForms of flowersLife of Erasmus DarwinPower of movement in plantsVegetable mould and worms

See also: Illustrations on Darwin Online.

 

For a comprehensive list of the materials available on this website see Publications and Manuscripts or Advanced search.

An important reference work for looking up almost any aspect of Darwin's life and work:

Freeman, R. B. 2007. Charles Darwin: A companion. 2nd online edn. Text

 

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