The HMS Beagle has entered the collective imagination as the ship that carried Charles Darwin to the Galapagos, triggering his later work on the theory of natural selection. However, the Beagle also played a vital role in the development of modern hydrography, cartography and meteorology in both the voyage of 1831-36 and an earlier one of 1826-30. The work of the Beagle under her captain, Robert FitzRoy, was to chart South American coastlines, many of which had not previously been mapped, and to build a global chain of meridian distances. On this voyage, FitzRoy also pioneered the use of Francis Beaufort's new system for identifying wind force, the basis of the modern Beaufort scale. FitzRoy's unofficial goal on this voyage was to return three Fuegians to their native shores and establish a Protestant mission in the desolate, southern fringes of the continent. It was a pivotal experience of civilization and savagery for both Darwin and FitzRoy.
Darwin and FitzRoy's separate accounts of the voyage were published in the four-volume Narrative of the Surveying Voyage of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle Between the Years 1826 and 1836 (1839). Darwin's version has never been out of print. In contrast, this set presents the first critical edition of the remaining texts from 1839: FitzRoy's account of the second voyage, his detailed appendices and the account of the 1826-30 voyage by Phillip Parker King, captain of HMS Adventure. Together they give an unparalleled example of British scientific exploration. This edition will generate new scholarly approaches to the Beagle voyage and be crucial for those interested in Darwin, Maritime Studies, History of Science and Empire.