Did you know that this month is the anniversary of Charles Darwin presenting his theory on evolution and natural selection? Here are a couple more fun facts about Darwin that you may not know.

  1. While it is the anniversary of his presentation this month, did you know that he waited more than 20 years to publish his theory at all?
    He spent five years travelling the world on board the HMS Beagle, coming home in 1836, during which time he formed much of his theory of evolution, however, he was concerned about the public reaction to his findings and chose to keep it secret until 1858, when he made a joint announcement about the subject with Alfred Russel Wallace, another British naturalist. He finally published the Origin of the Species the following year.
  2. Darwin was almost a doctor
    Did you know that Charles Darwin initially trained as a doctor? He was following in the footsteps of his father, who was a successful doctor in his own right. He received much of his formal training at his father’s practice before being accepted into the University of Edinburgh in 1825, which at the time was one the leading medical schools in the UK. He ended up dropping out though because he hated the sight of blood.
  3. Darwin shares a birthday with a US President.
    Darwin shares his birthday with Abraham Lincoln – both were born on 12th February 1809.
  4. Darwin gave Bridget Jones a run for her money
    In a very Bridget Jones-esque way, Darwin quite famously composed a pro/con list when deciding whether to get married or not. In 1838 he composed a two column list and according to his biographers, the pros were as follows:

    A constant companion/ friend in old age… better than a dog anyhow
    Someone to take care of the house

    While his reasons not to get married were:
    Freedom to go where one liked
    Conversation of clever men at clubs
    He eventually went on to marry his cousin, Emma Wedgwood.
  5. Darwin had a chronic illness
    Maybe he should have stuck with the medical studies as Darwin suffered from several chronic illnesses in his lifetime. Some think he may have caught Chagas Disease, a parasitic condition, from his travels, as he began to display symptoms on his return. He would complain of exhaustion, nausea, headaches, heart palpitations and problems with his skin. He would eventually die of cardiac problems, which is a symptom of Chagas Disease.
  6. Darwin studied religion
    You might not expect it but after leaving medical school, Darwin enrolled at Cambridge where he studied theology. His belief in Christianity wavered during his travels abroad, where he encountered slavery, learned more about the natural world and saw three of his children fall ill and die at a young age. Despite this, he never identified as an atheist, preferring instead to refer to himself as an agnostic.
  7. Darwin didn’t invent the “Survival of the Fittest”
    While you might think he did because it does feature in The Origin of the Species, it didn’t actually appear until the fifth edition. It was actually first used by Herbert Spencer in his book in 1864.
  8. Despite his love of exotic animals, he ate them
    Darwin not only studied animals from around the world, but he rather enjoyed eating them too. While he was at Cambridge, he formed his own club, known as the Gourmet or the Glutton Club depending on who you ask, the purpose of which was to eat creatures which were before unknown to chefs. As part of the club, he ate hawks, bitterns and barn owls, though apparently did not like the latter. He would later describe pumas as tasting much like veal.
  9. Darwin appeared on the £10 note for 18 years
    From the year 2000 until 2018, Darwin appeared on the back of the British £10 along with the HMS Beagle on which he sailed around the world. His likeness was discontinued in 2018 and replaced by Jane Austen.
  10.  Darwin is buried inside Westminster Abbey
    Like many well known and well respected people, Darwin is buried at Westminster Abbey. His family originally planned to lay him to rest in their home village, but his friends and colleagues lobbied for him to be buried at Westminster Abbey. A week after his death, he was laid to rest alongside John Herschel and Isaac Newton.




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