Remember the other day I was telling you about Abraham Lincoln’s legendary beard? Well! that got me thinking and I decided to find stories behind other legendary ‘beards’ or possessor of beards. And one of the first name that came to my head was that of Charles Darwin.
So I keyed in the words ‘Charles Darwin’ and ‘Beard’ on Google and I knew instantly, another beard story is waiting to be unraveled. I opened the page and what I read further goes something like this.
While for me the only reason behind my whiskers is love, pure love; Darwin’s beard had its origins in an effort to disguise himself from public at large. The author of ‘The Origin of Species’ first began to grow his epic facial fuzz in the year 1862 to soothe his eczema. This was also around the time he began to withdraw himself from public life.
And apparently, Darwin did succeed in his plan when at a Royal Society meeting in 1866, no one recognized him, not even his closest friend, Robert Hooker who was standing a feet apart from the geriatric naturalist. But the anonymity was only short-lived and soon Darwin’s luxurious full beard became his most distinguishing feature. His glorious facial foliage had become a philosopher’s beard, reminiscent of Greek legends like Aristotle and Socrates.
And as we know today, Darwin’s beard is an inseparable part of the image that marks Darwin as a sacred icon of wisdom and scientific authority.
But this is apparently only one part of Darwin’s beard story. The scientist later even wrote about evolution of beards. In his 1871 book The Descent of Man, the naturalist compared beards to the antlers, tusks, and other ornamentations used by animals to seek mates. He suggested that prehistoric men in some parts of the world evolved similar signals on their faces to appeal to women. Though this is a common knowledge to us now, but was a huge breakthrough in the 19th century.
I can indeed see many of you feeling so good about that mane and honestly, we do have a reason.