An unbelievably rare collection
Despite being one of the most important scientific works of all time, only a few portions of the original handwritten On the Origin of Species manuscript survive. Those which are being added to the Darwin Online project are two of only nine pages in private hands.
Other important manuscripts going online today include a draft page fromDarwin’s other most revolutionary workThe Descent of Man, and even the receipt for the book fromDarwin’s publisher, “for the Sum of Six Hundred and thirty pounds for the first edition, consisting of 2,500 copies, of my work on the ‘Descent of Man’.”There are also two draft pages fromDarwin’s seminalThe Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.
Unprecedented insights into Darwin’s work
A page that has never been made public before is some reading notes on ants thatDarwinmade during his research forOn the Origin of Species. The notes informed his examination of slave-making ants which became one of the most widely talked about parts of his famous book.
In addition, there are three very important letters byDarwin. One 1859 letter was written to his former geology professor at Cambridge, Adam Sedgwick, asDarwinnervously sends his radical newOn the Origin of Species. Two other important letters are to his colleagues, the biologist T. H. Huxley and the botanist Asa Gray.Darwin’s handwriting is notoriously difficult to read. As such, the documents have been transcribed, and can be viewed side-by-side with the original manuscript.The newly released documents can be viewed here at Darwin Online.
“Instead of being locked away out of public view, by adding these documents to Darwin Online they became freely available to anyone in the world”, shared Dr van Wyhe.