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The Voyage of the Beagle is a title commonly given to the book written by Charles Darwin published in 1839 as his Journal and Remarks, which brought him considerable fame and respect. The title refers to the second survey expedition of the ship HMS Beagle, which set sail from Plymouth Soundmarker on 27 December 1831 under the command of captain Robert FitzRoy.

While the expedition was originally planned to last two years, it lasted almost five–the Beagle did not return until 2 October 1836. Darwin spent most of this time exploring on land (three years and three months on land; 18 months at sea).

The book, also known as Darwin's Journal of Researches, is a vivid and exciting travel memoir as well as a detailed scientific field journal covering biology, geology, and anthropology that demonstrates Darwin's keen powers of observation, written at a time when Western Europeans were exploring and charting the whole world. Although Darwin revisited some areas during the expedition, for clarity the chapters of the book are ordered by reference to places and locations rather than chronologically. Darwin's notes made during the voyage include comments illustrating his changing views, and the book written at a time when he was developing his theory of evolution by natural selection includes some suggestions of his ideas, particularly in the second edition of 1845.

Publication of FitzRoy's narrative and Darwin's book

Darwin was invited by FitzRoy to contribute the natural history section to the captain's account of the Beagle's voyage, and using his field notes and the journal which he had been sending home for his family to read, completed this section by September 1837. As well as writing his own account of the voyage and the previous expedition of two ships, FitzRoy had to edit the notes of the previous captain of the Beagle. The account was completed and published in May 1838 as the Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle in four volumes. Volume one covers the first voyage under Commander Phillip Parker King, volume two is FitzRoy's account of the second voyage. Darwin's Journal and Remarks, 1832—1835 forms the third volume, the fourth volume being a lengthy appendix. FitzRoy's account includes Remarks with reference to the Deluge in which he recanted his earlier interest in the geological writings of Charles Lyell and his remarks to a Darwin during the expedition that sedimentary features they saw "could never have been effected by a forty days' flood", asserting his renewed commitment to a literal reading of the Bible. He had married on the ship's return, and his wife was very religious.

Darwin's contribution proved remarkably popular and the publisher, Henry Colburn of London, took it upon himself to reissue the same text in August with a new title page as Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the various countries visited by H.M.S. Beagle apparently without seeking Darwin's permission or paying him a fee.

Later editions: changing ideas on evolution

The book went through many editions, and was subsequently published with several different titles. The best known was the second edition of 1845 which incorporated extensive revisions in the light of interpretation of the collections and developing ideas on evolution. This edition was commissioned by the publisher John Murray, who actually paid Darwin a fee.

In the first edition regarding the similarity of Galápagos wildlife to that on the South American continent, Darwin remarks "The circumstance would be explained, according to the views of some authors, by saying that the creative power had acted according to the same law over a wide area" in a reference to Charles Lyell's ideas of "centres of creation". He notes the gradations in size of the beaks of species of finches, suspects that species "are confined to different islands", "But there is not space in this work, to enter into this curious subject."

Later editions hint at his new ideas on evolution:
"Considering the small size of these islands, we feel the more astonished at the number of their aboriginal beings, and at their confined range... within a period geologically recent the unbroken ocean was here spread out. Hence, both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact – that mystery of mysteries – the first appearance of new beings on this earth."
Speaking of the finches with their gradations in size of beaks, he writes "one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends."

Contents – where Darwin went

The book's list of contents outlines where Charles Darwin went (not in exact chronological sequence). See Second voyage of HMS Beagle for a detailed synopsis of Darwin's travels.

  • Preface
  1. SantiagomarkerCape Verdemarker Islands
  2. Saint Peter and Paul Rocksmarker
  3. Rio de Janeiromarker
  4. Maldonadomarker
  5. Río Negromarker to Bahia Blanca
  6. Bahia Blancamarker
  7. Bahia Blanca to Buenos Aires
  8. Buenos Airesmarker and St. Fe
  9. Banda Orientalmarker and Patagonia
  10. Santa Cruzmarker, Patagonia, and The Falkland Islandsmarker
  11. Tierra del Fuegomarker
  12. Strait of Magellanmarker. – Climate of the Southern Coasts
  13. Central Chilemarker
  14. Chiloe Islandmarker and Chonos Islands
  15. Concepcionmarker: Great Earthquake
  16. Passage of the Cordilleramarker
  17. Northern Chile and Perumarker
  18. Galapagos Archipelagomarker
  19. Tahitimarker and New Zealandmarker
  20. Australia
  21. Keeling Islandmarker: – Coral Formations
  22. Mauritiusmarker to Englandmarker


  1. A very few Remarks with reference to the Deluge., CHAPTER XXVIII of – See also Robert FitzRoy#HMS Beagle's second voyage.


Bibliography of original publications

  • Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, Volume I – Retrieved on 30 April 2007
  • Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, Volume II – Retrieved on 15 December 2006
  • Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, Volume III – (The Voyage of the Beagle) Retrieved on 30 April 2007
  • Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, Appendix – Retrieved on 15 December 2006

  • (The Voyage of the Beagle) Retrieved on 30 April 2007

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