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On the Origin of Species

On the Origin of Species

A Facsimile of the First Edition

Charles Darwin

ISBN 9780674637528

Publication date: 01/01/1964

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It is now generally recognized that the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859 not only decisively altered the basic concepts of biological theory but had a profound and lasting influence on social, philosophic, and religious thought. This work is rightly regarded as one of the most important books ever printed.

The first edition had a freshness and uncompromising directness that were considerably weakened in subsequent editions. Nearly all reprints were based on the greatly modified sixth edition (1872), and the only modern reprint changes pagination, making references to the original very difficult. Clearly, there has been a need for a facsimile reprint. Professor Mayr's introduction has a threefold purpose: to list passages in the first edition that Darwin altered in later editions; to point out instances in which Darwin was clearly pioneering; and to call attention to neglected passages that show Darwin as a much deeper thinker than has been recognized. No one can fail to be impressed by the originality of Darwin's treatment and by the intellectual challenge his work presents even to the modern reader.


  • 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.

    —Sir Gavin de Beer, Science


  • Ernst Mayr was Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, Emeritus, at Harvard University. He was the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the Crafoord Prize for Biology, the National Medal of Science, the Balzan Prize, and the Japan Prize.

Book Details

  • 540 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press
  • Introduction by Ernst Mayr

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