The Mount where Charles Darwin was born and raised.

Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12th 1809 in the small commercial town Shrewsbury located close to the border between England and Wales. His father, Robert Waring Darwin, and his mother, Susannah Wedgwood, made a strong alliance between two influential families in the area around Birmingham. Darwin’s grandfather was the doctor and poet Erasmus Darwin, who himself developed theories about the development of life. His maternal grandfather was Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the Wedgwood pottery dynasty. So Charles Darwin was born into a wealthy family with good connections and a freethinking, intellectual atmosphere.

Darwin’s father was a doctor, as was his father before him. The majority of the increasing wealth did however, come from investment and loan activities, which quickly made the Darwin family very wealthy. Darwin’s father built a large house to fit the entire family and their servants. Darwin’s mother died, when Charles Darwin was eight years old. From then on, he was primarily raised by his older sisters, who made sure he received a proper religious upbringing. Darwin entered the Shrewsbury School, a private boarding school for the local aristocracy and the bourgeoisie. The school, however, was located not far from home, and Darwin would run home occasionally. He did not particularly like the school and was not considered a very good student.

At home, he and his older brother Erasmus set up a chemical laboratory in the backyard. They loved doing experiments, and even as a child Darwin was immensely interested in nature. He loved collecting things and going hunting. At the age of 16, he was sent to Edinburgh to attend medical school along with his older brother.

Peter C. Kjærgaard