the final edition of the Origin of Species, inscribed by Charles Darwin
DARWIN, CHARLES. The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. Sixth edition, with additions and corrections. (Eleventh thousand.)
London: John Murray, 1872
Original green cloth. Light wear to spine ends. A near fine, tight copy. Half morocco case.
Sixth and final edition, first issue. A splendid and rare presentation copy inscribed by Darwin on the half-title: “From the author with best regards.”
On the Origin of Species is “certainly the greatest biological book ever written” (Freeman) and perhaps “the most important single work in science” (Dibner). “Darwin not only drew an entirely new picture of the workings of organic nature; he revolutionized our methods of thinking and our outlook on the order of natural things. The recognition that constant change is the order of the universe had finally been established” (Printing and the Mind of Man).
Titled for the first time The Origin of Species (not On the Origin of Species), the sixth edition is the first to contain the word “evolution” (pages 201 and 424). The sixth edition, “usually regarded as the last … is again extensively revised and contains a new chapter, VII” (Freeman). The edition was first published in February 1872 with the designation “Eleventh thousand” on the title-page. Subsequent printings were identified with increasing counts. The 1876 printing (18th thousand) contains a few minor final corrections, but the present 1872 first issue of the sixth edition represents the first appearance of Darwin’s final substantial alterations to his masterwork.
This is a rare inscribed presentation copy of the The Origin of Species. Virtually all presentation copies of the Origin (including all those of the first edition) were inscribed by the publisher’s clerks at Darwin’s request. Darwin occasionally sent inscribed slips of paper for recipients to paste in their copies, and his letters and notes sometimes accompany copies of the Origin, but examples of the book actually inscribed by Darwin are very rare.