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On the Origin of Species

Charles Darwin


On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin - click to see full size image

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On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin was first published in 1859. The full title of the book is 'On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life'. Darwin's book, which shows evidence of life arising by common descent, and progressing and evolving over generations through natural selection, became the foundation of evolutionary biology. At the time the book was published, there was already growing support for the concept of evolution, but that also conflicted with the Church which at the time was very intertwined with the scientific establishment in England. One of the reasons the book was so popular was because Darwin wrote it not for scientists, but for general readers.

The book was delayed from 1839, and whilst various theories have been put forth for this (including Darwin's fears of religious persecution), it would seem that it was more a case of him wanting to get everything right. But in 1855, Alfred Russell Wallace published a paper which had claims regarding fossil species that seemed very close to the theories that Darwin was about to propose in On the Origin of Species. The Scottish geologist Charles Lyell urged Darwin to publish his book so as to establish priority.

Within two decades of the publication of On the Origin of Species, evolutionism was a mainstream scientific theory and the term Darwinism entered the English language.

№ 3 in Neil deGrasse Tyson's Essential Book List.

№ 19 in Anne Haight's List of Banned Books.

Part of the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World set.

This book has 321 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1859. This text is from the 6th edition, first published in 1872.

Production notes: This ebook of On the Origin of Species was published by Global Grey on the 2nd September 2018 and updated on the 5th August 2021. The artwork used for the cover is 'A Macaque' by Charles Verlat.

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