DARWIN, Charles.

On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection;


On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection;
or the Preservation of favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
London, John Murray, 1860.

In stock

SKU: 98394 Categories: , , Tag:


This copy correctly dated 1860 on title-page although a few were dated 1859; it also has the 32pp. publisher’s catalogue dated January, 1860 and the binder’s ticket of Edmonds & Remnants on the rear paste-down.

‘This was the largest printing of any edition or issue in Darwin’s lifetime .. The misprint ‘speceies’ is corrected and the whale-bear story diluted, an alteration which Darwin later regretted, although he never restored the full text’ (Freeman).

‘In the late 1830s Darwin became increasingly convinced that species were not immutable. Instead, he thought they changed over long periods of time into new forms. He first called this his “transmutation theory”. After further reading and observation, he devised the phrase ‘natural selection’ to describe the process whereby the species best suited to their environment survived, producing young that were similarly adapted to their surroundings. As Darwin was writing a large book compiling evidence for his argument, he received an essay from Alfred Russel Wallace who also described natural selection. After publishing Wallace’s essay in a paper that included his own ideas, Darwin was compelled to respond quickly by writing a shorter book than the one he had been working on. This “abstract”, as he called it, was published in 1859. One of the book’s strengths was its astounding compilation of facts supporting his theory of transmutation.

During his lifetime, The Origin went through six English editions, some of which included significant revisions while still retaining the overall concept of transmutation, which by the late 1860s came to be known as “evolution”‘ (Cornell University Library).


[Second edition], fifth thousand. 8vo in 12s, ix, [1], 502, [32 (publisher’s advertisements)]pp., mild corner crease to top right-hand corner of pp. 421-427, a few very occasional spots, otherwise very good, publisher’s green cloth, boards blocked in blind, spine darkened, a little bumped on extremities, a few marks to rear board, abrasion to upper pastedown, professional repair to upper hinge and lining of spine, otherwise very good.

Provenance: Contemporary pencil ownership to rear free endpaper with the same name repeated in ink on the first page of the Introduction.


Freeman 376; Norman Coll. 1025; cf. PMM 344b.


Stock ID: 98394