Darwin First Editions

Darwin@the Library info | Exhibit brochure (pdf)

Charles Darwin’s 22 printed volumes are listed below in chronological order, linked to high resolution versions in the University of Oklahoma Libraries History of Science Collections’ Online Galleries:

  1. Darwin, Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle, vol. 1 (F8.1), vol. 2 (F8.2), vol. 3 (F8.3) (1838-43). More info.
  2. Darwin, Journal of Researches (1839), F11.
  3. Darwin, The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs (1842), F271.
  4. Darwin, Geological Observations on the Volcanic Islands (1844), F272.
  5. Darwin, Geological Observations on South America (1846), F273.
  6. Darwin, Monograph on the Sub-Class Cirripedia: The Lepadidae; or, Pedunculated Cirripedes (1851), F339.1.
  7. Darwin, Monograph on the Sub-Class Cirripedia: The Balanidae (or Sessile Cirripedes); The Verrucidae, etc. (1854), F339.2.
  8. Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859), F373.
  9. Darwin, On the Various Contrivances by which British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilised by Insects (1862), F800.
  10. Darwin, Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, 2 vols. (1868), vol. 1, F878.1 and vol. 2, F878.2.
  11. Darwin, Descent of Man, and Selection in relation to Sex, 2 vols. (1871), vol. 1, F937.1.; and vol. 2, F937.2.
  12. Darwin, Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), F1142.
  13. Darwin, Insectivorous Plants (1875), F1218.
  14. Darwin, Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants (1875), F836.
  15. Darwin, Effects of Cross and Self-Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom (1876), F1249.
  16. Darwin, Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species (1877), F1277.
  17. Darwin, Power of Movement in Plants (1880), F1325.
  18. Darwin, Formation of Vegetable Mould, through the Action of Worms (1881), F1357.

Bibliographic note:
With the exception of the Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, all Darwin first editions were published in London by John Murray. An exact description for each title can be found using the indicated Freeman number (F#), which refers to its entry in the Freeman Bibliography, the standard description for Darwin editions.

Additional volume:

Published posthumously:
Darwin, Life and Letters, 3 vols. (1887):

What is a “first edition”?
Any attempted numerical count of Darwin first editions swiftly encounters ambiguities. Here are a few of the questions that arise:

1. Should multi-author collaborations be included? Darwin’s first work, 3 volumes, was a collaboration between Darwin and 5 other scientists. We are counting it as #1 above because, in our determination, Darwin’s contributions of specimens and his role as superintending author were primary and not to be underestimated. Yet by this criterion one might exclude Krause’s biography of Erasmus Darwin.

2. Should posthumous works be included? Darwin’s Autobiography was not published during his lifetime, but first published along with his letters – the total is 23 if you count that, or 25 if you count all 3 volumes of the Life and Letters that includes the Autobiography. To have it both ways, we have chosen to place these 3 volumes on display in the Darwin@the Libraries exhibit, although we are not counting them among the 22 volumes published by Darwin himself.

3. Does “first edition” imply “first edition in book form”? When we offer 22 as the numerical count, we’re not including Darwin’s more than 200 articles, chapters and short essays. Yet the line between articles and printed volumes often blurs. For example, one book-length work was first published as an article in a journal (not on display) and then reprinted as a book (on display, #14 above). Which one is the “first edition”? Or should we include Darwin’s “preliminary notice” to Krause’s biography of Erasmus Darwin, since Darwin’s contribution makes up the majority of the published book?

4. Should one count titles or volumes? The list above includes 18 titles in 22 volumes. Yet the Zoology (#1 above) was issued over six years in 19 numbered parts. In this respect, it was more like a journal than a book. Afterward, the printer gave instructions for binding the 19 parts in either 3 or 5 volumes. The OU copy is bound in 3 volumes, but the count would be increased by 2 if we happened to hold a copy of the very same pages bound in 5 volumes.

So the idea of counting Darwin first editions is not as straightforward as it sounds. Does your count equal ours?

Regardless of how you count them, come see them all in the Darwin@the Library exhibit.

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Read more about the OU Darwin Collection, about the Online Galleries and view a list of additional Digitized Books.

About ouhos

Kerry Magruder, Curator; and JoAnn Palmeri, Librarian
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