The scientific beliefs of Alfred Russel Wallace about the evolution of species are very close to Darwin's. Both make a coherent lecture in 1858 in the same session of the Linnaean Society of London. Darwin's friends urge him to finally publish his results. They are right : other competitors may not have Wallace's fair play.
Darwin still cannot prepare a mere summary. He also has no confidence in the reading committees of the scientific publishers. For these reasons his book takes the form of a big volume intended for the general public when it is finally edited in 1859 in London by John Murray under the title On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. An uncut copy in its original binding was sold for £ 270K including premium by Christie's on July 12, 2017.
Following his own practice Darwin cannot stop with that first edition, for two reasons. First, he must insert the result of his new work as it goes along. The first of these on orchids demonstrates the difficulty for a biologist to unravel the polymorphism within a single species.
Then, he knows that he has to encourage foreign translations to better control their content. He is right once again : his first German translator, Heinrich Georg Bronn, introduced some religious beliefs of his own.
In 1862 Darwin prepares the modifications to be requested to Bronn by annotating in his hand a copy of the third English edition. The 200 pages sent to Bronn were later kept together in a volume that has just surfaced. It does not contain some longer modifications written on blank paper which are still lost. This important book is estimated £ 300K for sale by Christie's in London on December 13, lot 211.
Most of the modifications defined to Bronn are also incorporated in the fourth English edition in 1866. There is still to wait for the ultimate achievement of the theory of evolution which is its application to the human species. In 1871 Darwin now feels strong enough to go forward against all preconceptions repeated for more than 2000 years on that theme and he finally publishes The Descent of Man. That was 35 years after the return of the Beagle !
SOLD for £ 790K including premium