Darwin’s only selfie

Darwin scholar John van Whye put this on Facebook: it’s Darwin’s only known depiction of himself. John’s notes:

Darwin sketched himself as this little stick man on the island of St Helena in July 1836 as the Beagle was sailing home. The sketch represents the strong winds blowing up the sea cliffs while the air on top of the cliff, where Darwin was standing, was perfectly still. Only by holding his arm out over the cliff could he detect the strong winds. The text reads “gale of wind to hand not to man”.

The sketch is in one of Darwin’s Beagle field notebooks, the Despoblado notebook, here.

See a drawing of the cliffs from a later illustrated edition of voyage of the Beagle, here.







h/t: Matthew Cobb, David Bressan


  1. Posted February 12, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink


  2. nwalsh
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Why no Google Doodle on this day?

  3. Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  4. keith cook +/-
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    what,no hat! perhaps it’s a nude….

  5. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Interesting phenomenon, that. I once noticed it on a gravel road on a long steep hillside with a strong wind blowing straight up it; in the middle of the track it was almost perfectly calm. Move to the edge and you nearly got blown backwards, move to the ‘inner’ side and you got buffeted by eddies.

    Of course ships use it on their bridges, often assisted by a curved plate mounted just in front of the top of the solid front ‘rail’ to accentuate the effect.


  6. Mike
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    His handwriting is appalling.

  7. Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Not a great artist! Some biologists seem to have been (Leewenhoek?)

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