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: W. Clowes and Sons for John Murray, 1859.
8° (198 x 122mm). Half-title [with 2 quotations on the verso]. Folding lithographic diagram by William West after Darwin. 32-page publisher's catalogue dated June 1859 [Freeman variant 3] bound in after Y11. (Occasional light spotting and finger- or ink-marking, half-title and title lightly creased.) Original green cloth by Edmonds & Remnants with their ticket on the lower pastedown, covers panelled in blind, the spine lettered and decorated in gilt [Freeman variant a] (extremities lightly rubbed slightly affecting gilt blocking on spine, occasional minor marking, spine darkened, upper hinge split, the lower with short split), 20th-century morocco-backed slipcase titled in gilt on the spine. Provenance: Chas J. Sawyer Ltd (loosely-inserted bookseller's invoice dated 12 December 1957 recording sale for £28 to:) -- Mr Olav Basberg, Oslo, and by descent to the vendor.
FIRST EDITION IN THE ORIGINAL CLOTH. DARWIN'S WORK 'MARKED A TURNING POINT, NOT ONLY IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE, BUT IN THE HISTORY OF IDEAS IN GENERAL, for there is no field of human intellectual endeavor that has not been influenced by the thought and fact of evolution' (DSB III, p.571). Although based on Darwin's observations during his voyage on H.M.S. Beagle between 1831 and 1836, his ideas about the beneficial mutation of species did not cohere into the theory of evolution until he read Thomas Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population in the latter half of 1838. The gestation of the theory was slow, but in 1856, following a conversation with Sir Charles Lyell about his hypothesis, he was determined to bring it to a conclusion. In 1858 Darwin received a letter about evolution from Alfred Russel Wallace, who had arrived at similar conclusions independently, and the two men read papers on the subject to the Linnean Society of London on 1 July 1858. The Origin of Species was finally published on 24 November 1859, expounding a theory of evolution that was recognisably superior to all previous hypotheses explaining variations within species.
Of a print run of 1,250 copies, about 1,170 copies were available to the book trade, and were taken up immediately on publication. Darwin wrote delightedly to Lyell on 24 November 1859: 'This morning I heard also from Murray that he sold the whole edition the first day to the trade' (Life and Letters (London: 1887), II, p. 234). Dibner Heralds (1980) 199; Eimas Heirs 1724; Freeman 373; Garrison-Morton (1991) 220; Grolier Science 23b; Norman 593; PMM 344b; Sparrow Milestones 49; Waller 10786.