25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin

Trista - October 3, 2019

Charles Darwin is such an influential figure in history that he has his own day. Darwin is best known for his theory of evolution – an argument that rocked the science world during the 19th century. While Charles Darwin is a name most children learn in school, most people don’t know much about Darwin.

When Darwin brought his evolution theory to light, most people didn’t want to hear about it. Darwin faced glared as some people would spit and throw stones in his direction. People didn’t want to learn more about Charles Darwin. At least, not until decades later.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin Family Tree, Discovering Galapagos

25. Charles Darwin Lived A Prestigious But Sad Childhood

Charles Darwin came into this world on February 12, 1809, to Susanna and Robert Darwin. Charles became their fifth child. The couple would go on to have one more child after Charles. Born near Shrewsbury, England, Darwin’s lived in a Georgian home. Robert was a financier and a doctor.

At the age of 8, Darwin’s world changed when his mother passed away. As his father continued to work to care for the family, Darwin’s older sisters took charge of his upbringing. This event caused Darwin to suffer from episodes of depression throughout his life.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Rebel Giants, Amazon.

24. Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln Share A Birthday and Continue to Honor Them

Charles Darwin came into this world on the same day as Abraham Lincoln, who grew up to become the 16th President of the United States. While Lincoln’s home became a small log cabin in Kentucky as his parents struggled to survive, Darwin lived well.

Today, both Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln receive celebrations on the same day. While February 12 is internationally known as “Darwin Day.” Many people honor Abraham Lincoln, as well. In fact, many states, such as New York, California, Missouri, and Kentucky, hold February 12th as a holiday in honor of Lincoln’s birthday.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
President Lincoln on the battlefield, Imgur.

23. Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln Have Many Similarities

Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln have more similarities than their birthdate. First, they lost their mothers at a young age. Abraham Lincoln was about nine years old, and Darwin was eight. Both men knew the pain of losing a young child. Lincoln lost two sons at a young age while Charles Darwin and his wife lost their 10-year-old daughter.

Lincoln and Darwin became fans of William Shakespeare and were known to read him often. They both loved to listen to music, though neither could sing. Darwin and Lincoln both became abolitionists. They became outspoken against slavery and loathed the practice.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin, Wikipedia.

22. Robert Darwin Raised Charles to Think Freely

Robert and Susannah Darwin did not follow the values placed on society. They followed their morals and values. For instance, the family did not agree with the institution of slavery. In fact, Robert’s parents openly opposed slavery and became well-known for this stance.

Even though Charles and his siblings became baptized in the Anglican St Chad’s Church as society believed they should be, they attended the Unitarian chapel until their mother’s death. Robert continued to teach his children to think for themselves, no matter what society believed. While Robert remained quiet about his opposing beliefs, Charles spoke openly.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution from Ape to Man, DNA India.

21. Darwin Didn’t Publish His Theory on Evolution Immediately

Darwin spent most of his time with his work. When he wasn’t with his family, he worked in his office or lab conducting experiments. He also spends the majority of his time studying. In fact, Darwin often wrote about what he thought in his home.

The theory that Darwin is most known for, the Theory of Evolution, stayed hidden in his office for two decades. The only reason Darwin wrote about his opinion when he did is that he found out Alfred Russel Wallace had the same theory. Darwin knew he had to publish his information before Wallace went public.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Robert Darwin, Mun.ca.

20. Charles Darwin Became a Disappointment To His Father

Charles Darwin knew his father loved him, but this didn’t mean his father became proud of him. While in school to become a doctor, Charles quickly lost interest, and his grades started to suffer. To Robert, this became too much to bear, and he called his son a disappointment.

When Robert found out about Charles’ poor grades in college, he told his son, “You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family.” Fortunately, Robert did live to see his son’s knowledge as a biologist.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin and his wife, World of Faces.

19. Darwin Decided To Get Married By Writing A Pros and Cons List

Charles Darwin is known as a deep thinker. He thought everything through thoroughly and would not make any decision unless he knew it was the right choice. This didn’t just include publishing his information on the Theory of Evolution. It also involved getting married.

On the pros side of marriage, he mentioned children, having someone take care of his home, cooking for him, and having a constant companion into old age. On the con side, Darwin wrote the loss of time and losing complete freedom. In the end, Darwin decided on marriage.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin’s Beetle Collection, Flickr.

18. Darwin Became Interested in Taxidermy and Ate The Animals He Collected

As a college student, Darwin became interested in animals. He started collecting and studying animals and bugs instead of focusing on his medical studies. This caused Darwin to change the direction of his studies as he enrolled in Cambridge after leaving the medical practice.

While Darwin studied religion and theory at Cambridge, he furthered his interests in animals and taxidermy. Darwin wanted to learn as much as he could about the animals, which caused him to eat several animals he collected, including beetles.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Cambridge University, BBC.

17. Darwin Became A Student Of Divinity

Robert Darwin pushed his son to enroll in school for the medical profession. As a doctor, Robert believed that his son also needed to become a doctor. While Charles tried to become a doctor, he quickly lost interest. He then decided to take a different path in life.

After leaving the medical profession, almost by force due to his grades, Darwin chose to enroll at Cambridge University for Divinity, which is the study of religion and theory. While Darwin wasn’t strong in his faith as many other people, he became increasingly interested in theory.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin, The Independent.

16. Darwin Started Losing His Faith In God

Charles Darwin’s parents made sure they did their part in taking him to church. They were an upstanding family when it came to religion and made sure they kept the Sabbath day holy. However, once Charles enrolled in Cambridge, he started to think twice about faith and God.

While Charles never stated he became an atheist, he did refer to himself as agnostic. He doubted the word of God in many ways. Darwin admitted to his wavering faith by stating he never questioned any part of the Bible until he started studying Divinity.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Fanny Owens, Darwin’s first love, Walesonline.

15. Darwin Dated His Sister’s Friend In College

Many people know Darwin’s college girlfriend as “Fanny.” The couple courted for a while when Darwin took classes at Cambridge. Many people felt that the couple would marry as Darwin considered Fanny the love of his life. However, Fanny would soon come to feel differently about Darwin.

The further Darwin got into his studies at Cambridge, the more he focused on them. This caused him to put his relationship with Fanny on the side. Eventually, Fanny had enough and broke up with Darwin. Later, she sent him a letter saying she got married, leaving Darwin heartbroken.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin with one of his children, Oxford University Press.

14. Darwin Married His First Cousin and Blamed His Children’s Illnesses on His Marriage

After Darwin received a broken heart from the woman he always felt he loved, he decided to marry his first cousin, Emma. The couple courted for a while and after Darwin made the pros and cons list about marriage, chose to marry Emma. From the start, Darwin discussed the dangers of marrying his cousin.

Throughout their marriage, the couple had ten children. Three of these children died from various illnesses. The rest of the children suffered health problems throughout their lives. For the rest of his life, Darwin blamed these health problems on the fact he married his cousin.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Illustration of Charles Darwin’s Ship, thoughtco.

13. Darwin Struggled With Chronic Illness

While some people believe Darwin was always a sickly child, his chronic illness started after one of his many voyages. After the trip he took around the world, Darwin returned home and immediately became sick. He would often vomit, suffer from exhaustion, and eczema, which is a skin condition.

After a few months, Darwin started to suffer from heart problems, including palpitations. He struggled with breathing and had nearly constant headaches. No one is sure why Darwin became ill after a voyage, but many feel he came in contact with Chagas disease, causing his death.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin, Live Mint/Agency/Getty Images.

12. Charles Darwin Hated The Sight Of Blood

Robert Darwin pushed his son to enroll in one of the top medical schools. As a doctor, Robert believed his son should follow in his footsteps. After all, the medical practice would set Charles up for life. Unfortunately, all the grooming that Robert did in setting his son up to become a doctor would fall through.

At first, Charles showed promise as a doctor. Slowly, his grades begin to slip as he lost interest and focused on other activities, such as hiking and collecting bugs. Charles also struggled with the sight of blood, making him drop out of medical school.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Herbert Spencer, Wikimedia.

11. Darwin Did Not Come Up With The Phrase “Survival Of The Fittest”

Contrary to popular belief, Charles Darwin did not coin the phrase, “survival of the fittest.” This phrase is often associated with Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which is why people think he came up with the words. However, Darwin took the saying from English philosopher Herbert Spencer.

Spencer wrote the phrase in his work, “Principles of Biology,” which received publication in 1864. Darwin first used the phrase in his 1869 work, “The Origin of Species.” Darwin wrote, “the expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer of the survival of the fittest is more accurate, and is sometimes equally convenient.”

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Darwin on the 10-pound note, Bank of England.

10. The 10-Pound Note features Charles Darwin

People have found many ways to honor Charles Darwin over the years. Not only do people celebrate Darwin Day internationally on February 12th of every year, but he had a spot on the 10-pound note. This is one of the ways Great Britain pays tribute to one of its historical icons.

The first 10-pound note to feature Darwin came out in 2000. With his portrait on the back of the note, there are also images of an HMS Beagle, a magnifying lens and flora, and the fauna seen during his travels. Darwin remained on the note for several years.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin

9. Charles Darwin Took A Life-Changing Voyage Around The World

Charles Darwin enjoyed traveling and took many voyages throughout his life. However, one of the most important journeys of his life occurred in 1831 through 1836. This was when Darwin took his trip around the world on the HMS Beagle.

Throughout the voyage, Darwin kept great notes on everything he saw, heard, and discovered. He would not only write the information down, but he would also draw various things he saw. For example, he had several illustrations of birds. This voyage also brought him the knowledge to establish the Theory of Evolution and Natural Selection.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Mrs. Darwin’s Recipe Book, Amazon.

8. We Know So Much About Darwin Because Of His Detailed Record-Keeping

There is much information that often gets lost in history because people didn’t write anything down. This was not the way Charles Darwin handled what he studied and learned. Not only did he write notes and describe what he learned, but he also drew pictures.

Darwin wrote down everything he did, including the types of animals he ate. For example, Darwin described his experience of eating an owl, which he said was indescribable. Today, there is even a book that holds the recipes that fueled Darwin on his voyage around the world.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Backgammon with chips, 123rf.

7. Darwin Loved To Play Backgammon

After Charles Darwin became ill later in his life, he tried many ways to overcome this illness. His chronic sickness of headaches and nausea made it hard for Darwin to work. He would sometimes lie in bed for days at a time.

Through his record-keeping, Darwin quickly noticed that his illness spiked when he felt stressed. Therefore, he decided that the best way to handle his illness was to ensure he didn’t become stressed to relax. He created a strict daily schedule and played backgammon with his wife to de-stress. Every night between 8 and 8:30 they played two games.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin at the age of 7, Wikimedia.

6. People Believe Darwin Suffered From Social Anxiety

Charles Darwin is known as a quiet person who liked to keep to himself. While he spent a lot of time with his family and traveled, he did not spend much time in social settings. In fact, Darwin is known to become nervous in front of people, making many historians believe he suffered from social anxiety.

Some of Darwin’s fear stems from his Theory of Evolution. When Darwin wrote the theory, he became obsessed with what people would think about him. He became afraid that people would see him as a fool.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin’s grave, Flickr.

5. Charles Darwin Is Buried Near Sir Isaac Newton

Even though Charles Darwin suffered from chronic illness as an adult, he lived into his 70s. Charles Darwin passed away on April 19, 1882. While the world mourned the death of the Theory of Evolution creator, his family figured out the best way to keep his memory alive.

Darwin received the honor of gaining a spot in Westminster Abbey. The only reason Darwin received this burial place is because of his work on the Theory of Evolution. The inscription on his grave reads, “CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN BORN FEBRUARY 12 1809. DIED APRIL 19 1882.”

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
The Church of England, CBN news.

4. The Church of England Gave Darwin A Belated Apology

Charles Darwin’s faith in God declined while he studied Divinity at Cambridge University. While Darwin remained quiet about this throughout most of his life, he did discuss a bit about his change in religion. He explained how he questioned faith and the Bible. While Darwin never truly gave up on God, the Church of England gave up on Darwin.

One hundred twenty-five years after Darwin’s death, the Church of England issued Darwin an apology. The church stated, “Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and…encouraging others to misunderstand you still…”

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Illustration of slavery, Aero Magazine.

3. Charles Darwin Became A Huge Supporter Of England After The Country Abolished Slavery

Charles Darwin always cared for England. However, his emotions started to run deeper for England once they decided to abolish slavery. Darwin, who wrote more than he spoke out about social issues, often stated his distaste for the institution of slavery.

Once England abolished slavery, Darwin stated, “I have watched how steadily the general feeling, as shown at elections, has been rising against slavery. What a proud thing for England if she is the first European nation which utterly abolishes it!”

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Illustration of John Edmonstone and Charles Darwin, Ozy.

2. A Freed Slaved Inspired Charles Darwin

Not only did Charles Darwin despise the institution of slavery, but a freed slave by the name of John Edmonstone inspired Darwin. Edmonstone taught Darwin taxidermy at Edinburgh University. Edmonstone also joined Darwin on his voyage around the world.

Throughout the voyage, Darwin continued to learn from Edmonstone. For example, Darwin preserved the famed finches he collected on his trip through techniques Edmonstone taught him. Without the teachings of Edmonstone, Darwin believed he would have struggled to understand bugs and animals. Darwin became interested in natural history because of Edmonstone.

25 Evolutionary Facts About Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin, Medium.

1. Darwin Took His Famous Voyage Around The World Because Of A Tutor

Charles Darwin had a unique hunger for knowledge, but he didn’t come up with every idea alone. Darwin never once took the full credit he deserved, but he always gave credit where it needed to go. For instance, he noted how John Edmonstone inspired him on his voyage around the world.

Another person who set Charles Darwin up for his success spent his time teaching Darwin in college. Darwin’s tutor told him to take a biology research trip around the world on the HMS Beagle. However, it wasn’t to learn more about the world but understand his views on religion.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“7 surprising facts about Charles Darwin.” Russel McLendon, Treehugger. May 15, 2020.

“6 Things Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin Had In Common.” Mark Manchini, Metalfloss. February 2019.


“33 Interesting Facts About Charles Darwin.” The Fact File. September 2019.

“10 Things You May Not Know About Charles Darwin.” Christopher Klein, History. February 2014.