DARWIN, Charles Robert (1809-1882). On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection; or, The preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray [printed by W. Clowes & Sons], 1859.
8 (198 x 122mm). Folding lithographic diagram, 32pp. of advertisements for books published by John Murray bound in at end. (C4-5 with slight nick to outer margin, K10-L2 with similar nick at lower margin, quire Q loose, a few quires slightly creased at inner margin, folding diagram slightly creased at inner margin.) Original dark green grained cloth [Freeman's variant A], sides with blindstamped panel, spine lettered in gilt, uncut. Provenance: M. Blagniere Jan 7 1860 (ownership incription on front free endpaper); Mark Dineley (bookplate).
FINE, UNCUT COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. Darwin's best known book is justly described by Horblit as 'the most influential scientific work of the 19th century' and by Freeman as 'the most important biological book ever written'; its publication on November 24, 1859, affected the entire development of modern science. Work on the book began on Tuesday, July 20, 1858, while Darwin was on holiday at Sandown in the Isle of Wight, and it was at first intended to be only an abstract of perhaps 30 pages. John Murray accepted it in April 1859 having read the first three chapters, and by September the book was at proof stage. Murray sent Darwin an advance copy early in November, and presentation copies were sent out on the 11th or shortly afterwards. Only 1,192 of the 1,250 copies printed were available for sale, and demand was so immediate that Darwin wrote in his diary 'all copies sold first day', a permissible exaggeration. Although the theory of evolution had a pre-history, which was examined in the third edition of 1861, it was nevertheless Darwin himself who discovered 'the means by which the infinite variety of living organisms could have been produced within the limits of geological time. In accomplishing this Darwin not only drew an entirely new picture of the workings of organic nature; he revolutionised our methods of thinking and our outlook on the natural order of things. The recognition that constant change is the order of the universe had been finally established and a vast step forward in the uniformity of nature had been undertaken': PMM 344; Horblit Science 23b; Freeman pp. 73-84.