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Darwin Correspondence Project

Darwin's letters: World Map

Voyage of the Beagle

From December 1831, Darwin travelled round the world on the Admiralty surveying vessel, HMS Beagle. This map features letters written as the voyage was planned, persuading his father to let him go, deciding what to take with him, and getting advice on how to send specimens home, as well as letters from the places he visited, describing his adventures collecting rocks, fossils, insects, plants, animals and fish. He theorised about the origins of coral reefs and the elevation of the Andes, and sent home impressions of the people and landscape of the Falkland Islands, Tierra del Fuego, Chiloé, Tahiti, Tasmania and Mauritius. Family and friends wrote back with news of marriages, illnesses and social gatherings and advice on what to collect, packing his finds and further avenues of research. When Darwin returned in October 1836 he was a scientific celebrity and an experienced researcher.

Expression questionnaire

'Is astonishment expressed by the eyes and mouth being open wide, and by the eyebrows being raised?' 

This was one of a list of very precise questions Darwin circulated for his research on the expression of emotions.  Handwritten copies were sent out in 1867 and they were later revised and printed for ease of distribution. The recipients included colleagues, friends, and relations, but he also mobilised a network of diplomats, travellers, missionaries, merchants, naturalists, and engineers around the world. The map shows the global scope of Darwin's questionnaire. The responses described expression in remote peoples of Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, China, Ceylon, southern and western Africa, North and South America, and became valuable data for his book, The expression of the emotions in man and animals (1872).