After having been twice driven back by heavy southwestern gales, Her Majesty’s ship Beagle, a ten-gun brig, under the command of Captain Fitz Roy, R. N., sailed from Devonport on the 27th of December, 1831.
As opening lines of classic adventure stories go, it’s one of the best.
The story of HMS Beagle’s second voyage, with a young Charles Darwin on board, is a story of exploration, adventure, science, discovery, friendships, fallings-out, bravery, death, earthquakes, volcanos, mountains, islands, vast open expanses, and the return of alien abductees. But, unlike many other tales of nautical derring-do, it also happens to be entirely true. In later years, Darwin described the Beagle voyage as by far the most important event in his life—one that had determined his whole career.
Why would anyone want to read novels, when real history is so much more exciting?