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The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  1,354 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
When I left the school I was for my age neither high nor low in it; and I believe that I was considered by all my masters and by my father as a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect. To my deep mortification my father once said to me, "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat- catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your ...more
Paperback, 52 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1987)
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Feb 14, 2010 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Darwin, Charles. THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN 1809-1882. (1958; this ed. 2008). This is a relatively short autobiography that Darwin wrote for the benefit of his children, so that they would have some idea of who he was and what his antecedents were when he was gone from this earth. He spends most of his time talking about his years growing up and going to school. He also hits heavily on his turn from formal religion to atheism as he grew older. It is interesting how during his training f ...more
Erik Graff
Jan 22, 2013 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Bill Ellos
Shelves: biography
One of the best ways to disarm critics of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection would be to get them to read his posthumous autobiography, originally edited by his son, then rereleased in an unexpurgated version by his granddaughter. Whatever one might believe about the bible, or punctuated equilibrium for that matter, one cannot read this memoir without coming to like this man. This was, after all, a fellow who dug an enormous hole in order to calculate earthworm distributions under ...more
Aug 02, 2011 Caiti rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great little book to aid my quest to learn a bit about Charles Darwin.

Darwin's actual autobiography is pretty short and makes up only half of the volume. Not a riveting autobiography, but his rambles were pleasant enough, and there were a couple amusing anecdotes. I enjoyed it.

The remaining half is mostly devoted to letters and articles about some controversy between Darwin and Butler which I had absolutely no interest in, and the rest are a couple of Darwin's personal notes, which wa
Apr 25, 2013 Bjorn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk
When Darwin sat down to write his autobiography - more for his children's sakes than because he thought anyone outside his immediate family would be interested - he was 67 years old. He had travelled around the world, he had met the elite of 19th century English thinkers, he had published a number of books including at least two which would still be widely read 150 years later, and revolutionised the field of science in general and biology in particular.

After all this, he managed 120 pages of au
Qui n'a jamais été fasciné par l'évolution de la nature? Qui ne s'est jamais posé de questions sur les végétaux, les animaux, les minéraux, la Terre? Charles Darwin est l'une des étapes qui me semble indispensable dans cette quête de l'observation du monde. Quoiqu'on puisse penser de ses théories.
Ceci est donc son autobiographie, écrite à la toute fin de sa vie. L'avantage de l'édition empruntée, est qu'elle met en couleur différente les corrections du manuscrit apporté par sa femme, Emma Darwi
Dec 20, 2013 Armin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading the 'Autobiography of Charles Darwin' a few minutes ago. Darwin portrays himself as an ordinary man with an extraordinary zeal for science. As he put it,

"My chief enjoyment and sole employment throughout life has been scientific work; and the excitement from such work makes me for the time forget, or drives quite away, my daily discomfort."

Darwin was a humble, mild-mannered Englishman whose great power of observation and critical analysis revolutionised our view of the wo
Feisty Harriet
I kind of have a thing for Charles Darwin, so it was inevitable that I would want to read his autobiography. I loved reading his own words and some of his own thoughts on science, evolution, his friends, family, and slavery (he was adamantly anti-slavery). That being said, this autobiography was written by Darwin, exclusively for his children and grand-children. And as such, it doesn't cover much of his life, especially when compared to the 1200 page, 2-part biography by Janet Browne that I read ...more
May 03, 2016 Ross rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this work very interesting and charming, but as I read it I kept thinking if I were not a huge fan of the author and his life's achievements, this book would be colossally boring.
So I am happy to give it 4 stars, but if Charles Darwin is not a great man for you, then this would not be a good book for you.
I rate Charles Darwin as one of the two greatest men who has ever lived, along with Abraham Lincoln. I never get over the incredible coincidence that these two greatest of men were born
Charlene Lewis- Estornell
It should be essential for anyone who has ever heard someone say, "Darwin said (insert Darwinism here)" to read not only Origin of Species but what Darwin thought of his life and work, in his own words.

This is possibly one of the best books I have ever read. Darwin's ability to self reflect is unmatched by anyone I have read to date. What a treat it is to be allowed to travel through the mind of a humble, compassionate, genius or a man who wrote with his whole heart. This book was originally in
Jan 06, 2016 Andrés rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hace tiempo asistí a una exposición sobre la vida y obra de Darwin, y quedé con deseos de enterarme de primera mano sobre el proceso que lo llevó a formular sus ideas. Desafortunadamente, el libro es muuuuuy corto, y el periodo que todos supondríamos más interesante (el viaje en el Beagle, claro) nomás llega y se va.
En una parte habla sobre sus gustos literarios y menciona que, para él, ninguna novela puede considerarse "buena" si no tiene al menos un personaje que puedas amar completamente. De
Rohit Amberker
Jul 24, 2015 Rohit Amberker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A humbling read

It was a real pleasure to read this book. It truly felt like the legend himself in his frail voice is narrating his life story. It's a very short book and it talks to the ingenuity of Charles Darwin to deliver the message in a most concise manner. A lot to learn in this book and it left me humbled. LOVED IT!!!
Bcoghill Coghill
A nice biography but lacks the insights we would like from such a genius, a man who changed the world. He did have a charming modesty and I think was likable fellow.
I wonder what he would have been like in the day of modern science. Probably, he would still be outstanding.
Feb 04, 2016 Kasia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Czuję ogromny niedosyt. Karol powinienbył spędzić nad autobiografią więcej niż "godzinę dziennie"...
Jan 13, 2017 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read. Not too long, but enlightening. He said he was pleased that his many works were not treated with controversy because his only concerns were the pursuit of his passion for science, and how his peers and mentors viewed him. He ignored the criticisms of any who had no scientific credentials, and was gratified by the public response, measured largely in great book sales of virtually all of his many esoteric works on science and related studies.

His self proclaimed best qualities we
A short autobiography of Darwin.

Darwin was a great collector of facts. He loved to ponder on his ideas. He tested his ideas. He noted things immaculately. He was rigorous.

He loved collecting facts, and scientific experiments. His love of 'finding things out' allowed him to put in the long years in forming each theory and in writing his papers/books.

Thanks to him we now know the revolutionary theory of 'Evolution'. A theory that has lasted 100+ years.
Robert B
Dec 09, 2016 Robert B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brief autobiography of the great naturalist's life from 1809 to 1882. By his own admission, Darwin was not a great genius, but he did have good work habits and remarkable powers of observation. This edition, which was edited by his grand-daughter, includes his thoughts on other well-known scientists and other figures of the time, his arguments on the importance of facts in support of theories, and a long appendix on the controversy between Darwin and Samuel Butler.
Un tanto anodino. Nada que ver con el genial "El origen de las especies"
Os invito a leer la reseña completa en mi blog:
Aug 06, 2016 Praveen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First time I’d read autobiography, chosen Darwin because of my interest over Geography and the chapter dealing Origin and Evolution. Every time i study evolution chapters, had been wondered the distinctions that he made in that, differed from pre-existing theories and thrown up us a light to the more and more valid and logical one(creationist vs naturalist).

This book bears the heading “Recollections of the development of my mind and character”, sequence of events from his childhood till his last
Jul 17, 2016 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
A very short work, with several appendices written by his son adding material about Darwin's life and his views on religion (agnostic). I didn't get a lot out of the book so I was slightly disappointed (I got more out of the autobiographies of Benjamin Franklin or JS Mill.

The main topics are his childhood and schooling, his work as a naturalist (a scientist who lacks specialization) and his routine. He talked very little about his wife, but did say her care for him while he was ill quite freque
Mar 10, 2009 Peregrino rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Autobiografía redactada sin ninguna pretensión literaria, tal y como el autor aclara en sus primeras líneas. Se trata de un conjunto de recuerdos, más o menos organizados, que Darwin escribe para el recuerdo por parte de sus hijos. de esta manera, el autor de "El origen de las Especies" nos traza un recorrido de su vida, deteniéndose más en sus años mozos que, por ejemplo, en la más atractiva aventura del Beagle. Consigue describirnos un personaje de lo más gris, tímido, introvertido y poco atra ...more
Ethan D.
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN is more a compilation of various texts written by Darwin that a formal autobiography. The book dwells on his early life through his research voyages on The Beagle and some years that follow as well as his reflections. Even without the full intention of writing an autobiography, Darwin wrote to successfully document early life from his adulthood.The editor added these later entries in with journal notes made from his journey with The Beagle, which later resulte ...more
Katya Epstein
Jul 26, 2011 Katya Epstein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Origin of Species I decided that I adore Charles Darwin, and after reading his autobiography, I adore him more. I doubt there have been many others so insightful and honest, so capable of seeing clearly what is in front of them, unclouded by outside opinion or preconception. He was apparently renowned for being humble and charming, and he certainly comes across that way here.
That said, this is not riveting read. It was published posthumously, edited by his son and later his grandda
Es un libro interesante sobre algunas cuestiones mas que todo referenciales acerca de la vida y obra de Darwin, cortos pasajes sobre su niñez, sus amigos, su trabajo y algunos otros echos importantes en su vida. Escrito para sus hijos ya que (en sus palabras) le hubiese gustado poder leer un recuento de echos sobre la vida de su abuelo por él mismo. Está edición es completa ya que las pasadas tienen varias omisiones intencionadas echas por sus familiares debido a algunas declaraciones que podían ...more
May 11, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This very short volume is not so compelling as a thrilling read, but I actually did it enjoy it, as it helped to contextualize Darwin's life and career. What we are introduced to is a very ordinary person--the child of a wealthy doctor, a mediocre student, and a spoiled young man more invested in riding to the hunt than in pursuing a meaningful profession. Then, however, he discovers a passion...collecting beetles, which leads to a lifelong obsession with entomology, zoology, botany, and geology ...more
Dec 22, 2010 Tyler rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Synopsis: Charles Darwin wrote his autobiography throughout the later years of his life. He intended it to be solely for his children, but his son first published the autobiography in 1887 (with most of the personal details omitted - which have now since been included). Darwin writes about his early life, school years and published works, spending very little on information about his family or other personal topics.

My Review: Very few books take me this long to read (4 weeks or so). Alison's had
Mel Bossa
Very interesting read. I especially enjoyed the fact that Darwin wasn't too great in school but ended up doing fantastic things. Passion and imagination and curiosity were really his motors...

I wish there would have been more details about his voyage through the Galapagos Islands, and I guess I'll have to read the Beagle book for that.

The one thing I came away with: Darwin believed that happiness was our natural state and the proof was in the many ways we seek out anything that gives us pleasure
Apr 12, 2013 Aurelien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Darwin portrays here himself in a short and humble autobiography, in fact not even intended to be published but, written above all for the sole benefits of his descendants.

We learn about his childhood's interest in (already!) insects, the authoritative figure of his father, and his calling as a clergyman up to the crucial turn in his life: the journey onboard the HMS Beagle. He then moves on to talk about his career and the social prestige he benefited, describing some high intellectual figures
Aug 05, 2012 Jake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a short autobiography and from what I understand "carefully" edited by his son Francis. All the while I did thouroughly enjoy this, especially his early years, and his talks about certain professors he didn't like. It was neat to see that a man of great scientific importance was so bored and blah about school. I also like the part that he almost didn't get on to the "Beagle" because of the size of his nose. This wasn't a great book and he skips over a large section of his life (or his s ...more
Davor K
Oct 30, 2012 Davor K rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Unlike other biographies and autobiographies I read - this one left me without any real connection to the author.

I feel I have not been able to learn anything about Charles Darwin the person apart that he was very polite.

That is nice virtue, and I am certainly not looking into an autobiography to find an extension of gossip column - however he was a man that was so much under attack - you would expect he would be writing something about those, or something more about the Beagle voyage (which he
Fay Wu
May 08, 2016 Fay Wu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I thought that this autobiography would go more into depth about his motivations and perhaps how he felt about his work, but it seemed more a listing of what he did and when. There were, however, many interesting bits where he talked about his curiousity and thinking path that led him to write about, say, the breeding of orchids.
My biggest takeaway is that it's important to stay curious and follow my questions, and the greatest works (like Origin of Species) take years and years of not really k
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Evolution extending further...... 1 1 May 16, 2015 11:52AM  
  • Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist
  • Charles Darwin: The Power of Place
  • Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution
  • Principles of Geology
  • What Makes Biology Unique?: Considerations on the Autonomy of a Scientific Discipline
  • Science and Method
  • A Chemical History of a Candle
  • On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals
  • Studies in Pessimism: The Essays
  • Rosalind Franklin and DNA
  • Evolution
  • The Great Physicists from Galileo to Einstein
  • What Have You Changed Your Mind About?: Today's Leading Minds Rethink Everything
  • Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life
  • Teaching the Pig to Dance: A Memoir of Growing Up and Second Chances
  • Content and Consciousness (International Library of Philosophy & Scientific Method)
  • Natural Theology
  • A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive: Being a Connected View of the Principles of Evidence and the Methods of Scientific Investigation
Charles Robert Darwin was an English naturalist, eminent as a collector and geologist, who proposed and provided scientific evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through the process he called natural selection. The fact that evolution occurs became accepted by the scientific community and the general public in his lifetime, while his theory of natural selec ...more
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“If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.” 2579 likes
“...Whilst on board the Beagle I was quite orthodox, and I remember being heartily laughed at by several of the officers... for quoting the Bible as an unanswerable authority on some point of morality... But I had gradually come by this time, i.e., 1836 to 1839, to see that the Old Testament from its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel, the rainbow at sign, &c., &c., and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian.

...By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported, (and that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles become), that the men at that time were ignorant and credulous to a degree almost uncomprehensible by us, that the Gospels cannot be proved to have been written simultaneously with the events, that they differ in many important details, far too important, as it seemed to me, to be admitted as the usual inaccuracies of eyewitnesses; by such reflections as these, which I give not as having the least novelty or value, but as they influenced me, I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation. The fact that many false religions have spread over large portions of the earth like wild-fire had some weight with me. Beautiful as is the morality of the New Testament, it can be hardly denied that its perfection depends in part on the interpretation which we now put on metaphors and allegories.

But I was very unwilling to give up my belief... Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished.

And this is a damnable doctrine.”
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