Darwin wrote the book, which he entitled Recollections of the Development of my Mind and Character, for his family. He still stands as the leading figure of that revolution in scientific thought which followed the publication of the Origin of Species in the middle of the 19th century, a revolution soon involving all realms of knowledge. But posterity must continually reassess the past, and accurate contemporary sources are specially needed to provide insight into those stormy seasons when the wind of accepted belief changes. The great figures must be seen in their own setting and their own words must be heard, cleared of the posthumous growth of later dogmas. In the Autobiography Charles Darwin tells the story of the slow maturing of his mind and of his theories, leading to the publication of the Linnean paper with A. R. Wallace in 1858, and of the Origin of Species in 1859. The time has come for restoring the suppressions made in 1887. The occasional astringency of some passages had to be censored seventy years ago out of deference to the feelings of friends; now these comments not only seem harmless, but are revealing flashes lighting up the past.
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