Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. His father, Robert Darwin, was a physician, the son of Erasmus Darwin, a poet, philosopher, and naturalist. Charles's mother, Susannah Wedgwood Darwin, died when he was eight years old.
At age sixteen, Darwin left Shrewsbury to study medicine at Edinburgh University. Repelled by the sight of surgery performed without anesthesia, he eventually went to Cambridge Univeristy to prepare to become a clergyman in the Church of England. After receiving his degree, Darwin accepted an invitation to serve as an unpaid naturalist on the H.M.S. Beagle, which departed on a five-year scientific expedition to the Pacific coast of South America on December 31, 1831.
Darwin's research resulting from this voyage formed the basis of his famous book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Published in 1859, the work aroused a storm of controversy.
Here Darwin outlined his theory of evolution, challenging the contemporary beliefs about the creation of life on earth.
Darwin continued to write and publish his works on biology throughout his life. He lived with his wife and children at their home in the village of Downe, fifteen miles from London. Thought now to have suffered from panic disorder, as well as from Chagas' disease contracted during his travels in South America, Darwin was plagued with fatigue and intestinal sickness for the rest of his life. He died on 19 April, 1882, and lies buried in Westminster Abbey.