Charles Darwin is a well-known naturalist who developed the theory of evolution. His work has been widely recognized as a breakthrough in the field of biology.

But do you know which book inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution? In this article, we will explore the book that changed the course of Darwin’s life forever.

The Book that Inspired Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

The book that inspired Charles Darwin was “An Essay on the Principle of Population,” written by Thomas Malthus in 1798. Malthus was an English economist and demographer who argued that population growth would always outstrip food supply, leading to famine and disease.

Darwin read this book during his voyage on the HMS Beagle, which took him around South America and to the Galapagos Islands. The book had a profound impact on him and helped him develop his theory of natural selection.

Natural Selection

Natural selection is the process by which organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring. This idea was central to Darwin’s theory of evolution, but it was not his own creation.

Darwin borrowed this idea from Malthus’s work on population growth. According to Malthus, only a fraction of any given population would survive long enough to reproduce. The survivors would be those best adapted to their environment – those with characteristics that helped them secure food, avoid predators, or find mates.

Darwin applied this idea to different species, arguing that those with advantageous traits would be more likely to survive and pass those traits onto their offspring. Over generations, these traits would become more common in the population until they were ubiquitous.

The Importance of Malthus’ Work

Malthus’ work was crucial for Darwin because it provided a mechanism for explaining how evolution could occur without invoking divine intervention. Before Malthus, many scientists believed that species were fixed and unchanging, created by God in their current form.

Malthus’s work challenged these assumptions, arguing that populations were constantly in flux due to competition for resources. By applying this idea to the natural world, Darwin was able to develop a comprehensive theory of evolution that explained how species could change over time without invoking divine intervention.


In conclusion, the book that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution was “An Essay on the Principle of Population” by Thomas Malthus. Malthus’ work provided Darwin with a mechanism for explaining how evolution could occur without invoking divine intervention. Natural selection remains a central concept in modern biology and owes much of its origin to Malthus’s work.