cover image The Beagle Letters: Charles Darwin's Letters 1831–1836

The Beagle Letters: Charles Darwin's Letters 1831–1836

Charles Darwin, , intro. by Janet Browne. . Cambridge Univ., $35 (470pp) ISBN 978-0-521-89838-6

In time for Darwin's 2009 bicentennial, the complete correspondence both to and from Charles Darwin during his five years circumnavigating the globe on the HMS Beagle , beginning in 1831, documents his growth as a naturalist and offers a picture of life in the England he left behind. With one exception, the letters were published in volume one of the projected 30-volume Correspondence of Charles Darwin . It's a pleasure to have the correspondence from this critical period in an accessible volume. It is fascinating to watch Darwin attempt to come to grips with the huge amount of data he collected and make sense of the patterns he observed. We get an intimate look at an adventurous young Darwin, so unlike his more familiar, sedentary older self who would write On the Origin of Species . The late Burkhardt, who founded the Darwin Correspondence Project, has filled in details and context as needed, and the introduction by Darwin biographer Browne is a joy to read. Drawings made by Conrad Martens, the Beagle 's official artist for part of the voyage, not seen by PW . (Nov.)