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Bookshelf: The origin of the species

Fully illustrated for the first time is Charles Darwin’s best-selling memoir of his journey of discovery aboard the HMS Beagle

Bookshelf: The origin of the species

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The 1831 sailing expedition that inspired Darwin’s On The Origin of Species now comes with weird, wonderful, world-charting illustrations and photography. In the first fully illustrated edition of Darwin’s 1859 journal, readers can reconnect with his groundbreaking journey and discoveries.

The English naturalist and geologist made his famous contribution to evolutionary theory largely by observing the behaviour of the unstudied exotic beasties of the Americas and Australasia. There are wonderful archive drawings of such standout species as the gossamer spider of Patagonia, the famed finches of the Galapagos Islands and Australasia’s Technicolor reefs. Ancient maps also allow us to experience the geography as Darwin encountered it.

There are some riveting pages detailing the ‘getting there’ part of his journey — in Buenos Aires learn the etiquette of its bars and hear of livestock-filled streets.

Also strongly featuring observations by Beagle captain, Robert FirzRoy, this is as colourful and complete a book on the subject as there’s ever been.

The Voyage of the Beagle: The Illustrated Edition of Charles Darwin’s Travel Memoir and Field Journal. RRP: £25.99. (Zenith Press)

Published in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)