Natives of Tierra del Fuego, drawn by Conrad Martens, from Robert Fitzroy, Narrative of the Surveying Voyages, 1839.

48. Fitzroy, Robert (1805-1865).
Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle.
London: Henry Colburn, 1839.

Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle is probably the most famous scientific voyage in history.  Darwin was chosen to be the gentleman companion to the captain, Robert Fitzroy, and he became the de facto naturalist to the voyage when he proved better at the job than the official surgeon/naturalist.  The Beagle sailed in 1831 and spent several years surveying the eastern coast of South America (while Darwin collected specimens).  The Beagle sailed through Tierra del Fuego (see illustration to the introduction to this section), where Darwin got his first glimpse of a primitive human society, then made its famous stop at the Galapagos Islands near Ecuador, and finally completed its circumnavigation of the globe by visiting Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, the Indian Ocean, and South Africa, before returning home in 1836.

Fitzroy wrote the official narrative to the expedition, but since Darwin had kept a careful diary, he was invited to contribute a volume.  So Darwin’s famous travel account first appeared as volume 3 of Fitzroy’s narrative, with the innocuous half-title: “Journal and Remarks.”  Darwin’s volume proved so popular that it was immediately republished separately, with a title that wasn’t much better: “Journal of Researches.”  Modern editions are usually titled “The Voyage of the Beagle.”

Half-title page to Darwin’s volume, with gift inscription of Fitzroy at the top, from Robert Fitzroy, Narrative of the Surveying Voyages, 1839.
Linda hall Library