I HAVE written these sketches of effort and incident in former years for my friends; and for those of the public who have been pleased by my books. I have written them therefore, frankly, garrulously, and at ease; speaking of what it gives me joy to remember at any length I like sometimes very carefully of what I think it may be useful for others to know ; and passing in total silence things which I have no pleasure in reviewing, and which the reader would find no help in the account of. My described life has thus become more amusing than I expected to myself, as I summoned its long past scenes for present scrutiny: its methods of study, and general principles of work, I feel justified in recommending to other students: and very certainly any habitual readers of my books will understand them better, for having knowledge as complete as I can give them of the personal character which, without endeavour to conceal, I yet have never taken pains to display, and even, now and then, felt some freakish pleasure in exposing to the chance of misinterpretation. I write these few prefatory words on my father's birthday, in what was once my nursery in his old house, to which he brought my mother and me, sixty-two years since, I being then four years old. What would otherwise in the following pages have been little more than an old man's recreation in gathering visionary flowers in fields of youth, has taken, as I wrote, the nobler aspect of a dutiful offering at the grave of parents who trained my childhood to all the good it could attain, and whose memory makes declining life cheerful in the hope of being soon again with them.


Complete text. of Darwin's Autobiography.

Last modified 3 February 2008/p>