About the Author
Charles Darwin, a Victorian scientist and naturalist, has become one of the most famous figures of science to date. Born in 1809 to an upper-middle-class medical family, he was destined for a career in either medicine or the Anglican Church. However, he never completed his medical education and his future changed entirely in 1831 when he joined HMS Beagle as a self-financing, independent naturalist. On returning to England in 1836 he began to write up his theories and observations which culminated in a series of books, most famously On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859, where he challenged and contradicted contemporary biological and religious beliefs with two decades worth of scientific investigation and theory. Darwin's theory of natural selection is now the most widely accepted scientific model of how species evolve. He died in 1882 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Damien Hirst is an internationally renowned English artist, who has dominated the art scene in England since the 1990s. Known in particular for his series of works on death, Hirst here provides a contemporary, visual take on Darwin's theory of evolution - the struggle between life and death in nature.
William Bynum is Professor Emeritus of the History of Medicine at University College, London, and was for many years Head of the Academic Unit of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. He edited the scholarly journal Medical History from 1980 to 2001, and his previous publications include Science and the Practice of Medicine in the Nineteenth Century; The Companion Encyclopedia of the History of Medicine (co-edited with Roy Porter); The Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (with Roy Porter), The Dictionary of Medical Biography (with Helen Bynum), and History of Medicine: A Very Short Introduction. He lives in Suffolk.
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The natural history of this archipelago is very remarkable: it seems to be a little world within itself; the greater number of its inhabitants, both vegetable and animal, being found nowhere else. As I shall refer to this subject again, I will only here remark, as forming a striking character on first landing, that the birds are strangers to man. So tame and unsuspecting were they, that they did not even understand what was meant by stones being thrown at them; and quite regardless of us, they approached so close that any number of them might have been killed with a stick.
The Beagle sailed round Chatham Island, and anchored in several bays. One night I slept on shore, on a part of the island where some black cones – the former chimneys of the subterranean heated fluids – were extraordinarily numerous. From one small eminence, I counted sixty of these truncated hillocks, which were all surmounted by a more or less perfect crater. The greater number consisted merely of a ring of red scoriae, or slags, cemented together: and their height above the plain of lave, was not more than from 50 to 100 feet. From their regular form, they gave the country a workshop appearance, which strongly reminded me of those parts of Stratfordshire where the great iron foundries are most numerous.