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The Descent of Genius: Charles Darwin's Brilliant Career

What were the origins of Charles Darwin's particular species of genius?

HMS Beagle surveys the coasts of South America. Painting by Conrad MartensLooking back on his career, Charles Darwin wrote in 1871:

I have been speculating... what makes a man a discoverer of undiscovered things, and a most perplexing problem it is. Many men who are very clever – much cleverer than the discoverers – never originate anything.

Darwin did, of course, originate something – the Origin of Species – and was a supreme discoverer of undiscovered things. But whether Darwin was also clever has been debated ever since Darwin, or rather ever since Robert Waring Darwin, his father; for Charles confessed in his Autobiography that

I was considered... by my father as a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect. To my deep mortification my father once said to me, 'You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family.

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