1859 November 22
"Origin of Species" went on sale to the public today at a price of 15 shillings. 1,250 copies were printed, most of which sold the first day. It was an immediate success and Darwin started the same day editing the work for a second edition.

1859 December 9
Darwin returned to Down House from Ilkley Spa.

1859 December 9
John Murray started making arrangements to print a 2nd edition of "Origin of Species", this time 3,000 copies. Also, a German translation was in the works.

1859 late December
Lord Palmerston proposed to Queen Victoria that Charles Darwin should be conferred a knighthood. The proposal was abandoned, however, when Bishop Wilberforce intervened to stop the idea.

1860 January
The repercussions of Origin of Species were mixed. Thomas Huxley and Joseph Hooker thought very highly of it and soon became stronger allies with Darwin. Huxley soon became a ruthless defender of evolution, even going so far as to suggest that mankind was a transmuted ape! Richard Owen was outraged by the Origin. He saw the ideas expressed in the book as being dangerous to society. He also thought the book left too many unanswered questions, and worst of all it leaned natural science away from its respectable position as an investigator of god's creation. Most readers, however, simply did not understand how natural selection worked. They could not see who or what was doing the selecting. Many assumed god was the selector.

1860 April
The term "Darwinism" was coined by Thomas Huxley in the Westminster Journal.

1860 June 30
Professor William Draper of New York University gave a talk at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. The meeting took place at Oxford University's Museum Library, and Draper's topic was the influence of Darwinian theory on social progress. Revd. John Stevens Henslow was the presiding president during this meeting. Apparently the talk was only mildly interesting, but most of the 700 to 1,000 people in attendance stayed to the end because they wanted to hear Bishop Wilberforce respond to the talk, and since Huxley was there as well, a lively debate on evolution was sure to follow. After Draper finished his talk, Wilberforce stood and gave his thirty minute rebuttal by way of attacking "Origin of Species" every way he knew how, and by verbally attacking Thomas Huxley. Although Huxley fought back admirably, he was not able to hold the audience. At some time during the debate, an elderly gentleman stood up, holding a bible overhead, and pleaded with the audience to follow god's word. It was Robert FitzRoy! Joseph Hooker, who had reluctantly attended the meeting, eventually stood before the audience and tore into Wilberforce. He accused him of never having read "Origin of Species" and said Wilberforce knew nothing what-so-ever about the botanical sciences. Although it is commonly believed that the debate was only between Wilberforce, Huxley, and Hooker, many other people spoke out in defense of the church or in support of evolution. The debate lasted about four hours, most of which, it seems, consisted of each side attacking the views of the other. There was much commotion in the audience (one lady even fainted!), and in the end both sides claimed they had won the day. Darwin was not able to attend the meeting, as he was quite ill and was at the time taking the water cure at Sudbrook Park in the village of Richmond, in Surrey.

1861 January
The journal, Natural History Review, was bought by Huxley and other naturalists partial to evolutionary thinking. The journal was used as a voice for Darwin supporters. The first issue had an article by Huxley which described man's relationship to the apes. He sent a complementary copy to Bishop Wilberforce, just for fun. Over the next few months Huxley gave lectures to the poor working classes on the evolution of man from lowly apes. Such sermons appealed to the working class, as the idea of man being a nobel creature made their meager existence seem less harsh. Huxley was also getting into lively arguments with Richard Owen over man's descent from an ape-like ancestor.

1861 May 18
Darwin's old friend and mentor, Revd. John Stevens Henslow, died of heart disease. Darwin could not bring himself to visit Henslow at his death bed because he was quite ill himself. On a happier note, by now many naturalists in Britain were writing papers on the great antiquity of man. Even Lyell was doing field work on man's antiquity - searching for their fossil remains in the English countryside.

1861 July
Darwin took a break from writing his book on animal domestication and went on holiday with his daughter, Henrietta, to Torquay on the Devon coast. While there he spent many an hour examining the way insects pollinate orchids in the fields around the town. He noticed that only certain insects pollinate one particular orchid variety. When he returned to Down House he immediately switched from breeding pigeons to raising orchids. During the Victorian era, orchids were all the rage, and as soon as word got out that Darwin was raising them he found himself being flooded with specimens from all over the country. What he set out to do was study how orchids used intricate petal designs to attract bees and moths to their pollen. How did such a relationship evolve? The subject fascinated him! Writing a book on the subject was too much for Darwin to resist.

1861 September
Darwin made arrangements with John Murray to publish his orchid book next year. By this time, German, Dutch and French translations of Origin of Species were in the works. As the work on orchids piled up, Darwin became much more ill and his research ground to a near halt. Huxley continued his lecture circuit, and during this time he was heading for that stronghold of the church, Edinburugh, Scotland. He gave a speech there on the evolution of mankind from a species of ancestral ape. Much to his surprise, his lecture was met with great enthusiasm; some people in the audience even cheered! When Darwin heard the news he was overcome with joy.

1862 May 15
The Orchid book was published today. The full title was : "On the Various Contrivances by which British and Foreign Orchids and fertilized by Insects."

1862 late May
Alfred Wallace finally returned from his travels in the Far East. He came back with haul of 125,000 specimens after six years of travels.

1862 May
Huxley's book: "Man's Place in Nature" was published. It was a compilation of his lectures on humans, apes and evolution, and it infuriated the church. As a counterattack to Huxley, Owen advocated what he called a "Special Creative Energy" which initiated the spontaneous formation of new species from existing ones. Huxley challenged Owen to answer the question - "Was man spontaneously created from an ape?" Owen's reply was that man's creation was preordained by god, and where man came from was of no importance. It should be noted that Owen was not against the idea of one species changing into another, only that he did not think naturalistic evolution was the agent of change. It was not long before the followers of Darwinian evolution saw Owen as an outcast among the scientific elite.

1862 Summer
Darwin spent the summer quietly working with his orchids, seeds, dissecting animals, and examining their skeletons. Orchids now became his passion and during the summer he had a greenhouse built at the house for his growing collection.

1863 January
A lizard-bird fossil was discovered in Solenhofen, Germany, and Richard Owen arranged to buy it for the British Museum. During a speech to the Royal Society, Owen dubbed the fossil "Archaeopteryx." Upon further examination it was found that the Archaeopteryx fossil, while at first looking like a bird, had many features found only in lizards (teeth, a bony tail, etc.). The lack of fossil evidence for species transmutation concerned Darwin a great deal, but he figured that transitional fossils would eventually be found and the Archaeopteryx fossil fit the bill quite nicely.

1863 February
Charles Lyell's book, "Antiquity of Man" was published. In this book Lyell advocated the ancient origin of mankind, but never specifically came out in support of evolution. It was obvious that Lyell was still living in the old scientific school and was having a difficult time adjusting to the new school of free-thinking evolutionists.

1863 September
While reading Lyell's book, "Antiquity of Man," Darwin's health became much worse. At the behest of his wife, Emma, he returned to Malvern Spa for the water cure. Darwin could not bring himself to visit Annie's grave, but Emma went for a look - the spot being overgrown with bushes.

1863 Fall
An Italian translation of Origins was completed.

1864 September 13
Darwin's 118 page treatise: "The Movement and Habits of Climbing Plants" was published by the Linnean Society.

1864 November 3
The "X Club" was founded.

During this time the church was moving quickly to shore up their defenses of biblical creation and the fixation of species. Radical naturalists, and those already in the transmutation camp, joined forces to counter the church move. They met at the St. George Hotel in London and formed a dining club they called the "X-club." Their purpose was to meet and discuss pure science without the intrusion of the church or any religious views. They met on the first Thursday of every month. The club existed from November 1864 to 1892. Many members of the club had power inside the Royal Society of London.

The nine members of the X-Club were --

Joseph Hooker - Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in 1865.
Thomas Huxley - Professor of natural history at the Government School of Mines in London.
William Spottiswoode - Owner of Eyre and Spottiswoode; the Queen's printers.
Edward Frankland - Professor of chemistry at the Royal Institution.
John Tyndall - Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institution.
George Busk - Retired surgeon for the British Navy. Major contributor to many scientific societies.
Sir John Lubbock - Knighted in 1865. Had wealth and influence in London society.
Thomas Hirst - Professor of Mathematics at University College, London.
Herbert Spencer - Not very active in the X-Club. He lived off inheritance from his family and book royalties.

1864 November 30
Darwin was awarded the Copley Medal; the highest honor bestowed by the Royal Society. Busk and Falconer, both members of the X-Club, nominated him. Awarding the Copley Medal to Darwin caused much anger among the older Fellows of the Society, most of whom wanted Adam Sedgwick to get the award. It was agreed upon to give Darwin the medal, but only if it was explicitly stated that his "Origin of Species" book was not a contributing factor in their decision. Awarding the Copley Medal to Darwin was a sign of how influential the X-Club had become in Royal Society politics. Darwin was naturally very pleased. As was suspected, the Church of England was not at all happy with this turn of events.

1865 April
Darwin was very ill again, but tried hard to work on his animal domestication book.

1865 April 30
Admiral Robert FitzRoy commited suicide on this day. His views on meteorological forecasting were being criticized, and he was passed over for the position of Chief Naval Officer of the Marine Department. Unable to handle such a rejection, he fell into one of his bouts of depression and slit his throat.

1866 April 27
Having had a mild recovery from his illness, Darwin felt well enough to visit London and attend the April meeting of the Royal Society. He was sporting a long white beard, and even his friends do not recognize him.

The phrase, "Survival of the fittest," was coined by Herbert Spencer in his two volume book: "Principles of Biology." It became a substitute for the phrase, "Natural Selection", which led people to think selection required a selector (i.e. - god).

1866 October
German naturalist, Ernst Haeckel, paid a visit to Down House. Haeckel had become the professor of comparative anatomy at the University of Jena and was an avid supporter of evolution in his country. He and Darwin had an interesting meeting, waving their arms about and using makeshift sign language in a struggle to communicate. Despite communication problems, however, they got along splendidly. He was a very loud speaking gentleman and Emma could not stand to be in the same room with him.

1866 Winter
The Mount, Darwin's childhood home, was sold. The building still stands today, although it is now occupied by the "District Valuer and Valuation Officer, Shrewsbury."

1867 Spring
Darwin spent his time writing his book on sexual selection in which he discussed man's ancient origins for the first time. By now the book had grown into a huge volume of nearly one-thousand pages and he feared the section on man's origins would become lost in the immensity of the text. Therefore, he decided to have the book published in two parts - "Descent of Man" and "Selection in Relation to Sex."

1867 August 21
The Darwin family returned to Down House after a six week holiday on the Isle of Wight.

1867 late Summer
By now Darwin's theory of evolution was established in most of Europe.

1867 middle of September
Asa Gray and his wife came to England to visit Darwin at Down House.

1868 January 30
After much editing, "The Variations of Animals and Plants under Domestication" was finally published. It was a beautiful portrayal of just how malleable species can be.

1869 February 10
A 5th edition of Origin of Species was published.

1869 April
While out riding, Darwin was thrown by "Tommy," his horse. His riding days were now over.

1869 April
Thomas Huxley coined the term "Agnostic."

1869 June 10
The Darwin family went on holiday to North Wales, and along the way they visited The Mount for the last time.

1869 November 4
The journal "Nature" was founded by Joseph Hooker and Thomas Huxley as a voice for the X-Club. 130 years later the journal "Nature" is one of the most popular and well respected science journals in the world.

1870 middle of May
Darwin and Emma spent a restful holiday at Cambridge where they attended Frank's graduation from college with a maths degree. While there Darwin met up with his old friend, Adam Sedgwick, who was delighted to see him. After much conversation Sedgwick took Darwin on a grand tour of the Woodwardian Museum, which sported an excellent collection of geological specimens and fossils.

1871 January 15
Proofs of "Descent of Man" were edited and sent to John Murray.

1871 January 22
George Mivart, a self taught zoologist and anti-evolutionist, brought up the "half a wing is useless" argument against natural selection. This argument was presented in his book: "On the Genesis of Species." The book was essentially a tactical strike against the theory of natural selection. The major argument Mivart presented was one against transitional forms. For example, if a species of lizard was on the road to evolving the ability of flight, what good would half a wing do for the lizard? Since an animal cannot fly with half a wing it was folly to imagine a long series of transitional steps towards flight. Darwin became quite upset with Mivart, not because of his objections to his theory, but because of the venomous manner in which Mivart put forth his objections and his attacks on Darwin's colleagues.