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Darwin Correspondence Project

How dangerous was Darwin?

Key Stage: 

Pupils explore the events that led to the publication of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ and the subsequent impact of the book, through an analysis and comparison of historical sources including letters, a press report and satirical media images of the day.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the activities pupils will be able to:

  • assess the contribution of letters made to interpreting historical events
  • compare and evaluate the usefulness of different historical sources
  • draft their own versions of an historical event for print or social media

Unexpected news

Write a diary entry for Darwin to explore his state of mind.

Duration: 50 minutes

Reporting events

Compare accounts of a special event from different historical sources.

Duration: 45 minutes

Read all about it!

Create a front page news story or a blog entry about the impact of Darwin’s ideas.

Duration: 1 hour

Discussion questions

Why might Darwin’s book, ‘On the Origin of Species’, have been controversial when it was first published?

Think about: What was the position of Christianity in Britain in Darwin’s lifetime? What did many people believe about the origins of life? What was Victorian culture like? What was the role of science? What new discoveries and inventions were made? How might that change make people feel?