Charles Darwin, the Shropshire scientist who changed the way we look at life, is about to take another leap up the evolutionary ladder.

The complete works of the famous thinker are to be made available on the internet over the next two years under a project described as the "first of its kind".

Creators of, which was launched yesterday, said the public would be able to listen to and read works including the Origin of Species for free.

Much of the material has come from the Darwin Archive, which is housed at Cambridge University.

The project is being overseen by Dr John van Wyhe, a researcher based at Christ’s College, Cambridge.

"In the first-ever undertaking of its kind, the complete works of one of history’s greatest scientists are to be made available for free on the world-wide web," said a university spokesman.

"The entire works of Charles Darwin – 50,000 pages of searchable text and 40,000 images of original publications – will be available at the click of a mouse."

He said the site will contain the "largest collection of Darwin’s writings ever published".

"It is aimed at serious scholars, but can be used by anyone with a passing interest in Darwin," said Dr van Wyhe.

Born in Shrewsbury in 1809, Darwin is Shropshire's most famous son and was a pupil of Shrewsbury School.

His famous journey on HMS Beagle helped forge his theory of evolution which challenged the church's view of the origin of human life and linked man to monkeys.