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Welcome to History Buff, a blog for history lovers everywhere! History Buff brings news stories about archaeology from around the world together on one site. From finds in ancient Egypt to new discoveries in anthropology, History Buff wants to know.

Michelle Moran
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Origin of the spouses: The private papers that reveal Darwin's inner turmoil over whether or not to marry


A charming insight into the mind of Charles Darwin, on the verge of marriage, was revealed this week when private papers of the genius Victorian naturalist - whose theory of evolution transformed the scientific world - were published online for the first time.

The 17 pages of his musings on marriage in his own spidery handwriting offer a fascinating - and deeply moving - glimpse into the thoughts of a man torn between his intellectual discipline as a scientist and his desire for a wife.

It is the first time that the general public has been able to examine the 90,000 individual documents that form his archive, which provide a very human commentary on one of the greatest Englishmen of all time.

Darwin split

Wife-to-be: Emma Wedgwood (left) and meticulous thinker Charles Darwin

It's hard to imagine any 29-year-old man today completing such a careful analysis of the pros and cons of taking the plunge. But then, Shropshire-born Darwin was a scientist to his fingertips and wanted to leave nothing to chance - not even matrimony.

And so he wrote this manuscript in the late summer of 1838, barely two years after he'd completed his famous five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle to the Galapagos Islands, the west coast of South America and the Pacific islands, a trip that was to form part of the basis of his 1859 masterwork The Origin Of Species.

There was a very specific reason why. That summer, the young Darwin had glimpsed a young woman whom he thought he might just marry - his charming, cultured and intelligent cousin Emma Wedgwood, granddaughter of the renowned pottery designer and manufacturer Josiah.

She was just nine months older than he was.

Nevertheless as a scientist, and a Victorian at that, Darwin was not about to rush into any decision, and decided to write down the arguments as methodically as he had noted the species on the Galapagos islands, then discuss the whole matter with his fearsome father Robert, a society doctor and financier.

Taking a sheet of blue parchment paper he touchingly headed one column "Marry" and the other "Not Marry", and under each respectively noted the pros and cons.

Read the rest on the DailyMail