The Battle of the Fruit and Vegetable Soldiers by Francis Darwin (image via Open Culture Charles Darwin is famously known as the father of evolution, but did you realize he was also the devoted father of ten children? This seems like a colossal number today (the Duggars and their like aside), but a large family wasn’t uncommon in Darwin’s time. It was also not unusual during this period to find a spouse among one’s kin, as Darwin did when he married his cousin, Emma Wedgwood. Despite his fears that inbreeding may have left his children susceptible to illness or disorders, they were a talented bunch and many went on to have distinguished careers.
Perhaps this was due in part to their father’s loving encouragement and a more modern attitude toward children than you would find in a typical upper-class Victorian home. Darwin even frequently gave his children discarded manuscript pages they could use as drawing paper. Of the original manuscript of On the Origin of Species, only 28 pages of the manuscript are known to exist, and on the verso of many are illustrations by his children. Both examples here are thought to have been done by Francis Darwin. Above is The Battle of the Fruit and Vegetable Soldiers and to the left is a watercolor of birds and bugs around flowers. I imagine Darwin would have been pleased with both drawings, which now reside at the Cambridge University Library.