Danny Vendramini's Charles Darwin page



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From September 1854 I devoted my whole time to arranging my  huge pile of notes, to observing, and to experimenting in relation to the transmutation of species.

Thomas Malthus (1766-1834 )      The astute 1798 observation by Malthus that human populations would double every 25 years unless they were limited by food, war, etc. provided both Darwin and Wallace with the vital clue that led to their independent discovery of natural selection.

..early in the summer of 1858 Mr. Wallace, who was then in the Malay archipelago, sent me an essay "On the Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from the Original Type;" and this essay contained exactly the same theory as mine. Mr. Wallace expressed the wish that if I thought well of his essay, I should sent it to Lyell for perusal.
Alfred Wallace (1823-1913)    Self-taught working class
extraordinaire, explorer, socialist, philosopher, entrepreneur and largely overshadowed co-discoverer of the 'natural selection' evolutionary process.
The extract from my MS. and the letter to Asa Gray had neither been intended for publication, and were badly written. Mr. Wallace's essay, on the other hand, was admirably expressed and quite clear. Nevertheless, our joint productions excited very little attention, and the only published notice of them which I can remember was by Professor Haughton of Dublin, whose verdict was that all that was new in them was false, and what was true was old.
Asa Gray, Darwin's
friend, confident and Harvard botonist, to whom Darwin sent
an abstract of his new theory in September 1857.

Alfred Wallace and Charles Darwin - codiscoverers of 
natural selection. I constructed this montage from separate
photos to bring the two great heroes of evolution togeather
for a commemorative photograph.

  Two versions of the same photo, taken in 1859, the year Darwin published The Origin of Species

I by no means expect to convince experienced naturalists whose minds are stocked with a multitude of facts all viewed, during a long course of years, from a point of view directly opposite to mine.  




First editions of The Origin of Species, including Darwin's hand written title page
I may, of course, be egregiously wrong; but I cannot persuade myself  that a theory which explains several large classes of facts can be wholly wrong.

                 William Darwin's 1863 portrait of his father.                   Emma  emma3          
It is no doubt the chief work of my life.  It was from the first highly successful. The first small edition of 1250 copies was sold on the day of publication, and a second edition of 3000 copies soon afterwards. Sixteen thousand copies have now (1876) been sold in England;  and considering how stiff a book it is, this is a large sale. It has been translated into almost every European tongue, even into such languages as Spanish, Bohemian, Polish, and Russian.

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A few of the 410 editions of The Origin of Species. Since 1859, it has never been out of print.

To read The Origin of Speces online, click here.

        Darwin grew his famous beard in 1866.    This excellent albumen print portrait by Ernest                                                                                                                     Edwards was taken around 1867. 

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should

expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.


It has sometimes been said that the success of the 'Origin' proved "that the subject was in the air," or "that men's minds were prepared for it." I do not think that this is strictly true, for I occasionally sounded not a few naturalists, and never  happened to come across a single one who seemed to doubt about the permanence of species. Even Lyell and Hooker, though they would listen with interest to me, never seemed to agree. I tried once or twice to explain to able men what I meant by Natural Selection, but signally failed.

The Second Evolution 

Them and Us

Copyright: 2005-2010 by Danny Vendramini