Originally posted at ouhos.org, the now-discontinued blog of the OU History of Science Collections. Neither this post nor any of its content should be taken as an official communication of the University of Oklahoma.
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:
- Darwin, Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle, vol. 1 (F8.1), vol. 2 (F8.2), vol. 3 (F8.3) (1838-43). More info.
- Darwin, Journal of Researches (1839), F11.
- For an illustrated edition, see: Darwin, Journal of Researches (Voyage of the Beagle, 1890 edition), F64.
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.
- Ernst Krause, Erasmus Darwin. Translated from the German by W.S. Dallas. With a Preliminary Notice by Charles Darwin. London, John Murray, 1879.
This work, although cataloged under Krause (consistent with Krause’s top billing on the title page), contains a 126-page “preliminary notice” by Charles Darwin on the life of his grandfather, Erasmus. Krause’s own essay is only 86 pages, so the majority of the work is actually by Charles Darwin.
Darwin, Life and Letters, 3 vols. (1887):
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.