This volume inaugurates a complete edition of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin. For the first time full authoritative texts of Darwin's letters are available, edited according to modern textual editorial principles and practice. The first volume of the edition contains the letters of the years 1821–1836. They begin with one written to Darwin at the age of twelve and continue through his school days at Shrewsbury, his two years as a medical student at Edinburgh, the undergraduate years at Cambridge, and his five years of exploration and learning during the voyage of the Beagle. These were Darwin's years of initiation and preparation for a life of science. In the earliest letters Darwin appears already keenly interested in natural history and an avid collector of minerals, plants, marine invertebrates, and insects - especially beetles. The letters of the succeeding years tell the story of the young Darwin's development up to his return to England when, at the age of twenty-seven, he was received as a colleague by Charles Lyell, Adam Sedgwick, and other leading scientists, who had already heard of his discoveries and observations during the Beagle voyage.
List of illustrations; List of letters; Introduction; Acknowledgments; List of provenances; Note on editorial policy; Darwin/Wedgwood genealogy; Abbreviations and symbols; The correspondence, 1821–36; Appendixes; Manuscript alterations and comments; Bibliography; Biography; Biographical register and index to correspondents; Index.