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Answers to some frequently asked questions

The Darwin Inspired team frequently gets asked questions about Darwin and related topics so we thought we'd collate them for you. Don't hesitate to ask if your question isn't covered here.

What's the best book to read to learn more about Darwin's theory of evolution?

It has to be On the Origin of Species itself. It is a popular account of Darwin's theory and very readable. If you don't want to read the whole book, though, we would recommend just reading the final chapter entitled "Recapitulation" as it is an excellent summary.

Darwin's theory has, of course, been updated over the 150 or so years since he wrote Origin, so to find out where the theory of evolution is now, we recommend Almost Like A Whale: The Origin Of Species Updated by one of our trustees, Steve Jones.

What else was Darwin interested in?

The best place to find out is by looking at Darwin Online, which has all his publications and manuscripts as well as a few biographies of him. He wrote books on climbing plants, carnivorous plants, earthworms, pollination and a couple of large volumes on barnacles. We use his whole body of work, and not just the theory of evolution, as inspiration in science.

Another great site to find out about other matters that interested Darwin is the Darwin Correspondence Project, which is digitising all existing correspondence from and to Darwin. The letters are not only transcribed but also supplied with explanatory notes to put the contents of the letters in context.

The Darwin Manuscripts Project, based at the American Museum of Natural History, is digitising all Darwin's manuscripts. There is a searchable catalogue and many of the entries have high quality digital images of the original manuscripts.

Where did Darwin go on the HMS Beagle?

Use this website by Darwin scholar John Woram, which links places in the Beagle Voyage to Google Earth so you can explore where he went.

You might also want to explore the HMS Beagle Project website. This project aims to build a replica HMS Beagle and sail her round the world to the places Darwin visited.

What was Darwin like as a person?

This book, Charles Darwin: A Companion, is a good overview of Darwin's life and character.

Does the Charles Darwin Trust own Down House or The Mount?

No, English Heritage manage Down House, Darwin's home in Kent, and open it to the public but we often work with English Heritage's Education department there. The Mount, Darwin's childhood home in Shrewsbury, is cared for and opened to the public by the Darwin Birthplace Society.