Darwin's Armada tells the stories of Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Joseph Hooker and Alfred Wallace, four young amateur naturalists from Britain who voyaged to the southern hemisphere during the first half of the nineteenth century in search of adventure and scientific fame. The book traces their diverse social origins from the wealthy gentry to the working-class poor, and their education from the spires of Cambridge to the socialist debating halls of London and Wales. It charts their thrilling travels in wooden ships to the strange and beautiful lands, oceans and islands of the southern hemisphere. Encounters with the landscapes, habitats and peoples of South America, Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, South East Asia and Antarctica moulded the young mariners' bodies and minds, reshaped their scientific ideas and led them, on returning to Britain, to befriend fellow voyager Charles Darwin. All three crucially influenced the publication and reception of his Origin of Species in 1859, one of the formative texts of the modern world.For the first time the Darwinian revolution of ideas is seen as a genuinely collective enterprise and one that had its birth in a series of gripping and human travel adventures in the southern hemisphere. Many of the most urgent ecological and social issues of our times are seen to be prefigured in this compelling story of intellectual discovery.