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On the Origin of Species: A Facsimile of the First Edition / Edition 1

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It is now fully recognized that the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859 brought about a revolution in man’s attitude toward life and his own place in the universe. This work is rightly regarded as one of the most important books ever published, and a knowledge of it should be part of the intellectual equipment of every educated person. The book remains surprisingly modern in its assertions and is also remarkably accessible to the layman, much more so than recent treatises necessarily encumbered with technical language and professional jargon.
This first edition had a freshness and uncompromising directness that were considerably weakened in later editions, and yet nearly all available reprints of the work are based on the greatly modified sixth edition of 1872. In the only other modern reprinting of the first edition, the pagination was changed, so that it is impossible to give page references to significant passages in the original. Clearly this facsimile reprint of the momentous first edition fills a need for scholars and general readers alike.
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Editorial Reviews

Nature - W. L. Sumner
The Origin is one of the most important books ever published, and a knowledge of it should be a part of the intellectual equipment of every educated person… The book will endure in future ages so long as a knowledge of science persists in mankind. It remains to be said that the edition here reviewed is very worthily produced and contains a little-known picture of Darwin.
Times Literary Supplement
This is a most valuable publication. In addition to the text of the first edition (1859) of the Origin with all the freshness and directness of the original, now here made available in facsimile, Professor Ernst Mayr of Harvard, a most distinguished writer in this field, has prefaced this reprint with an introduction that is in itself a classic.
Science - Sir Gavin De Beer
It was a very happy idea to publish a facsimile of the first edition of On the Origin of Species; the price of copies of the original edition has reached the thousand dollar bracket, and in contemporary literature all page-references are to the original pagination, which was not followed in previous reprints of the first edition. Now, with this very reasonably priced and beautifully produced book, not only historians of science but also biologists will have the opportunity of following the fascinating thought-trails, still far from fully explored, of that remarkable man Darwin. Few if any persons are so well qualified as Harvard's Ernst Mayr to execute so helpfully and gracefully the delicate task of writing a worthy foreword to such a classic.
Publishers Weekly

Originally published in 1859, Darwin's revolutionary idea is revisited in this spirited and profoundly enthralling reading by Professor Richard Dawkins, who in reading Darwin's material aloud manages to rediscover old ideas and unearth some dramatic subtleties in his prose. Dawkins offers a well-pronounced, pitch-perfect delivery and smartly never attempts to turn the reading into a performance from Darwin's point of view. Instead, Dawkins delivers the material from his own context as a modern-day interpreter of the classical work. Dawkins also splendidly adapts this abridgment, leaving out sections of Darwin's original theories that have been discredited by modern science. Dawkins says he believes his alterations are what Darwin himself would have wished for the recording, and the final result is an absolutely astounding glimpse into life as we know it. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

As a milestone not only in the history of science but also in cultural history, On the Origin of Species belongs in every library, high school and above. Nature writer Quammen (The Reluctant Mr. Darwin) offers a gloriously illustrated and richly annotated volume, which testifies to the book's enduring legacy. Throughout the text, relevant sidebars from other of Darwin's writings, including his Autobiography, field notes from the HMS Beagle, and his myriad letters, are presented for their insight. Illustrations include historical images, such as sketches, woodcuts, and portraits of people and places, but also included are contemporary photographs of the flora and fauna that Darwin described. Between the contextual additions and the edifying illustrations, there is no comparable volume. For all libraries.

—Gregg Sapp
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674637528
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1964
  • Series: Harvard Paperbacks Series
  • Edition description: Facsimile Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 540
  • Sales rank: 348,103
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.36 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Darwin

Dame Gillian Beer is Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Literature. Her Darwin's Plots (1983; second edition 2000) was followed by Open Fields: Science in Cultural Encounter (1996). More recently she has been working on Carroll's Alice books in the context of nineteenth-century intellectual controversies and a new collection of her essays on literature and science is scheduled for 2008.


Robert Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England, on February 12, 1809, into a wealthy and highly respected family. His grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, was a doctor and the author of many works, including his well-known Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life, which suggested a theory of evolution. Charles's father, Robert Waring Darwin, was also a prosperous doctor; his mother, Susannah, was the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the renowned Wedgwood potteries. The Darwins and the Wedgwoods had close and long-standing relations, and Charles was to marry his cousin, Emma Wedgwood.

In 1825 at age sixteen, Darwin matriculated at Edinburgh University to study medicine. There, his early interest in natural history developed, and he studied particularly crustaceans, sea creatures, and beetles. Nauseated by the sight of blood, however, he decided that medicine was not his vocation, left Edinburgh in 1827 and entered Christ's College, Cambridge University, with no clear sense of possible vocation, theology itself being an option. At Cambridge he became friends with J. S. Henslow, a clergyman who was also professor of botany. Although Darwin was to graduate from Cambridge with a B.A. in theology, he spent much time with Henslow, developing his interest in natural science. It was Henslow who secured a position for Darwin on an exploratory expedition aboard the HMS Beagle.

In December 1831, the year he graduated from Cambridge, Darwin embarked upon a five-year voyage to Africa and South America, acting as a companion to the captain, Robert Fitzroy. Darwin spent more time in land expeditions than at sea, where he was always seasick, but during the long voyages he continued his collecting and, cramped in his tiny cabin, meticulously wrote up his ideas. Several years after his return, at the time of the birth of his first son, William, Darwin fell ill. It is conjectured that while in South America he had contracted Chagas's disease, but whatever the cause, the effects were debilitating for the rest of Darwin's life.

By the time he returned to London in 1835, many of his letters, some to scientists like Charles Lyell and Adam Sedgwick, had been read before scientific societies, and he was already a well known and respected naturalist. His first published book, an account of his voyage aboard the Beagle, entitled Journal of Researches, appeared in 1839 and was widely popular. He married the same year; soon after, the family moved from London to a secluded house at Down, in Kent, where Darwin wrote initial sketches of his theory and then preparing himself for the full exposition, spent eight years writing a detailed set of definitive monographs on barnacles.

In 1858, when Darwin was halfway through writing his book, "Natural Selection," A. R. Wallace sent him a paper called, "On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type." In language similar to Darwin's own, Wallace laid out the argument for natural selection. Wallace asked Darwin to help get the paper published -- obviously an alarming development for a man who had given twenty years of his life to getting the argument for natural selection right. Darwin's scientific friends advised him to gather materials giving evidence of his priority but to have the Wallace paper read before the Linnaean Society, along with a brief account of his own ideas. Immediately after the reading, Darwin began work on his "abstract" of "Natural Selection." The result was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, published in 1859. Despite the controversy it generated, it was an immense success and went through five more editions in Darwin's lifetime.

Darwin devoted the rest of his life to researching and writing scientific treatises, drawing on his notebooks and corresponding with scientists all over the world, and thus developing and modifying parts of his larger argument.

Darwin never traveled again and much of his scientific work was done in his own garden and study at home. Others, particularly his "bulldog," T. H. Huxley, fought the battle for evolution publicly, and as Darwin remained quietly ailing at home, his family grew -- he had ten children -- and so did his reputation. Although he was always ill with symptoms that made it impossible for him to work full days, he produced an enormous volume of work. His death, on April 19, 1882, was a national event. Despite the piety of his wife, Emma, Darwin had fallen away from religion as he reflected both on the way nature worked and on the way his favorite daughter, Annie, died painfully from an unknown feverish illness, when she was ten. Nevertheless, ironically, he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Origin of Species.

Good To Know

Darwin was born on the same day as U.S. president Abraham Lincoln.

He broke his longtime snuff habit by keeping his snuff box in the basement and the key to it in the attic.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      February 12, 1809
    2. Place of Birth:
      Shrewsbury, England
    1. Date of Death:
      April 19, 1882
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Theology, Christ’s College, Cambridge University, 1831

Table of Contents

A Chronology of Charles Darwin

On the Origin of Species 1

App. 1 Register of Writers 361

App. 2 Glossary of Scientific Terms 371

Index 385

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 39 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2010

    Darwin is right

    you may think you are right but the origin of life is simply another mystery scientists are looking into. However, the study done by Miller and Urey does prove that amino acids and other organic compounds can be formed by the conditions that Earth was in during its early years. Your entire post is completely stupid though because no where does Darwin say that there is no God, in fact Darwin believed in God. All Darwin wanted to say was that species evolve over time, a statement that has been proven.

    10 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2011

    Can't we all just get along?

    I am a Christian, a biologist, and I believe evolution happened and still happens. As an explanation for the origin of life Evolution fails entirely, but as an explanation for the diversity of species we have on earth today it's the only logical choice. Believe it or not there is a happy medium that is both logical and theological.

    6 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Chas was correct

    Don't listen to that lunkhead below (conveniently anonymous). Charles was on the right track and the anon lunkhead is in no position to question his scientific expertise. S/he's no doubt an Evangelist or some other offshoot of Christianity trying to debunk the theory of evolution because it doesn't fit his/her belief in the mystical.

    Shoutout to Davo B!

    6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Classic Masterpiece explaining the most important scientific theory of all time

    On the Origin of Species is Darwin's classic masterpiece, detailing his ideas on his theory of evolution, which is today the backbone of all modern biology. It has created an immense controversy since it's publication, attracting criticism from religious figures who felt threatened by the content. Today we know beyond all reasonable doubt the true account of how we came to be, thanks to one man, one scientist. There is no evidence against evolution. Since it's publication, a great many nobel prizes have been given for work on evolution, and none for creationism. If you can honestly assert that you do not accept the theory of evolution, I must urge you to purchase this book and read it for yourself. If you remain unconvinced, perhaps you are seeing something that the vast majority of scientists do not, and I would urge you to publish peer reviewed work of your reasoning.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2012

    If you aren't educated enough to understand what Darwin is saying, you probably will not believe this book.

    You have to at least had a secular college level zoology class to understand the premise of this book. Since the 1960s many imtermediate fossils have been found, many in the ape to human evolutionary line. Look at wolves to dogs. Look at wild oxen to modern domestic bovines.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    Some things some people need to understand...

    First of all Darwin's intention was not to disprove the existence of God or Allah or Brahman or Bahaii or any go at aall. Darwin was a weak Atheist because scientists were still yet to discover abiogenesis so Darwin had no idea on what came first in fact im not sure if this is true but under these circumstances Darwin may have been a deist but i know little of his religious views. Darwin in his book is simply stating how a multitude of species could gradually evolve from a simple species over a long period of time. So to everyone who says this is rubbish I highly doubt your intelllect or recommend doing more research and finding the mountains of evidence to support his theory that he so beatifully and intricatly(I'm a little weak on spelling so forgive me i I spelled it wrong) crafted with such percision which at the time had very few evidence besides his own gathered evidence to support his theory that has led to much more evidence to support his theory.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2012


    If there were the slightest possibility of evolution, then why have we not found any link fossils? Lucy was not one of them! They found her "remains" spread over a mile apart! She was actually a pigmy chimp! And the nebraska man! Ha they found a tooth, thought it was one of our ancestors, and found out it was a pig tooth.... People have dug bones out of graves to make it look like a hu,an ancestors fossil...rediculous.

    3 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 11, 2011

    what came first?

    There are three parts to cell replication. If I've got this right, the RNA duplicates itself become DNA which then Causes Protine sinthisis, Which then creates the RNA to duplicate again. so what came first? RNA, DNA, or Protine sinthisis.

    3 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2013

    Beware of making this purchase

    When I ordered this book, it came up on my Nook as the book "Your Guide to Flatter Abs; Tips That Work." Yes, really. I had to call customer serivice and they were able to eventually send the The Orgin of Species to my Nook. Buyer Beware!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    Too manytyppo Too many typos!

    Too many typos!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2012

    Love it: Must read!!!!

    Charles Darwin is awesome. One of my schoolmates meantioned it and it wes lovely. I live in the city in L.A., so it is hard to get authentic book that explains life to me cleraly. Thanks Charles darwin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2012

    Fascinating discussion.

    As a young earth creationist, I don't agree with Mr. Darwin on many things, and I believe that modern evidence (fossils, thermodynamics, lack of causal action or explanation of beginning material in evolution) disproves his theory. The Bible does have the best explanation of the facts. Still a very interesting book.

    2 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2014

    Good book

    I agree with it all. I hate black people and enyone not like me. Hahahaha!!! Right?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2014

    Another PagePerfect ebook that is only readable on a nook device

    This rating is for the ebook format not the book or edition. I dont carry my nook eveywhere. I use the nook app on my phone and tablet the most (nook stays on nightstand) and because the PagePerfect format is for the Nook itself, I cant read this ebook on those devices!

    This edition of Darwins's book is the best in my opinion. The illustrations are fantastic and it has lots of historical references. I own the paperback version and it is well worn and annotated. Buy this edition....just not this ebook version. Kindle's version is clean and readble across devices (apps).

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2014


    People this a old book darwin proved evolution in the galapogos islands

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    Good bbook. I agree with the ideals.

    I was sitting at the bus stop the other day when this annoying I missionary comes over and bugs me! I almost said f you to her but i am very nice and faked listened to her instead. But when she left i tore up the pamphlet she gave me. Those jehovoahs witness missionarys are a bunch of dumbheads who take pleasure in annoying people. They have no life so they ruin other peoples instead. Dont take that the wrong way i am tolerant with religous people but when they bother ME i have every right to be irritated..... this is off topic...isnt it? Grrrr.

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2013

    Insightful material for the knowledge seeker

    For anyone wanting to learn about evolution and Darwin's ideas.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    DO NOT LISTEN (July18)

    Unless you are Tim Tebow, be quiet. Ever hear of hindus?

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Dont listen to the post from (July 18 2011)

    This a is a wonderful book explaining the diversity and evolution of life. Dont think he was athist or anything because what he wrote is contrevercial to your beliefs ... if you dont believe this is corect your wrong :p

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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