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 16, Darwin left Shrewsbury to study medicine at Edinburgh University. He later enrolled in Cambridge University to
prepare for a career as a clergyman in the Church of England. After receiving his degrees in 1831, Darwin accepted an
invitation to serve as an unpaid naturalist on a five-year scientific expedition to South America aboard the HMS Beagle. This
voyage and Darwin's later research formed the basis for his theory of evolution by means of natural selection, detailed
in his book On the Origin of Species, published in 1859.
Darwin continued throughout most of the rest of his life to publish his research and writings on biology.
In his later years, Darwin was plagued by fatigue and intestinal sickness, thought by some historians to have been
caused by Chagas' disease, contracted during his travels in South America. He died on April 19, 1882, and lies buried
in Westminster Abbey.