The Offer of a Lifetime?

When Charles Darwin was 22 he was offered an exciting and unique opportunity to join a sea voyage that would take him around the world.
He was invited to accompany Captain FitzRoy as a gentleman naturalist on board HMS Beagle. The journey changed Darwin’s life and the course of science.

This pack explores the letters surrounding the offer and Darwin's subsequent dilemma. Find out how close he came to not going at all!

  • English KS3 and 4

The Correspondents

Read the letters to follow the chain of events that led to Darwin going on the voyage of a lifetime. Find out more about the role that each correspondent played.

As you read the letters consider the following questions:

  1. If you were Darwin's father, would you have let your son go?
  2. If you were Darwin, would you have wanted to go?
  3. If you were offered such a trip now, would you go?
Open the letter Animate the mail route
George Peacock
John Stevens Henslow
Charles Darwin

Robert Waring Darwin
Josiah Wedgwood
Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin
Francis Beaufort
Robert FitzRoy

Charles Darwin
Susan Darwin
Robert FitzRoy
John Stevens Henslow

George Peacock to John Stevens Henslow

George Peacock writes to ask Henslow to recommend a naturalist to accompany Captain Fitzroy on the Beagle voyage. He stresses that it is a rare and great opportunity.