Treasure-trove of lost library is now freely available
(15 July 2014) For close to 180 years, Charles Darwin’s library aboard the ship HMS Beagle during his landmark expedition around the world in the 1830s remained lost. The library was dispersed at the end of the voyage. Today, the library has been electronically re-constructed in its entirety and made freely available online as part of the Darwin Online website by historian of science Dr John van Wyhe, a Senior Lecturer at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The reconstructed Beagle library online consists of 404 volumes amounting to over 195,000 pages containing more than 5,000 illustrations. Much of the Beagle library was devoted to books on travel and voyages, and natural history, but it also included books on geology, history, literature as well as atlases and nautical maps. At least a third of the reconstructed library is in foreign languages such as French, Spanish, German, Latin and Greek.
Dr van Wyhe said, “The Beagle library reveals the sources and inspirations that Darwin read day after day as he swung in his hammock during long sea crossings, or as he worked on his specimens at the chart table or under the microscope. For a long time this was lost to us, but this reconstructed library provides us an unprecedented insight into the journey that changed science and our understanding of the world.”
The Beagle library project has been funded by an Academic Research Fund granted by the Ministry of Education of the Singapore Government and supported by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Science and Charles Darwin University and the Charles Darwin University Foundation, Northern Territory, Australia.
Dr John van Wyhe is the founder and Director of Darwin Online.
Read the detailed press release with links to the Beagle library here.