Charles Darwin's on-board library goes online

The compilation is a project of the Darwin Online Beagle Library.
By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |   July 15, 2014 at 12:31 PM

SINGAPORE, July 15 (UPI) -- Charles Darwin's complete set of books, including diaries, that he took on his five-year voyage are available online, beginning Tuesday.

The 404-book library of reading material the naturalist brought on his world tour aboard the HMS Beagle in the 1830s, which influenced his writing on evolution, were brought together through the Darwin Online Beagle Library project -- the curator of the website where the books can be read.

The voyage of Darwin (1809-1882) is considered among the most significant events in history, forming his later-published views on nature and evolution, and the thesis that all species on earth descended from common ancestors. "People have been studying it for over a hundred years using whatever materials we can to find out about it, looking at his notes, and so forth, to try and understand how he discovered the things that he did. You can't do that without understanding what he read and what he based his findings on," said Singapore professor and science historian John van Whye, who compiled the set of online books.

While the selections are largely science books and encyclopedias, several fiction books are included, including a risqué novel about Spain's Queen Caroline.

"It was a Spanish novel about Queen Caroline, published in Barcelona, that was a sort of quasi-political, quasi-sexy, account of the adultery case against Caroline," van Whye said.

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