Back to Darwin: A Richer Account of Evolution

In June 1858 Charles Darwin received a letter accompanied by a 15-page manuscript from Alfred Russell Wallace, a fellow naturalist, with the request that Darwin review the manuscript for possible publication. The story is well known that after Darwin consulted with his friends the geologist Charles Lyell and the botanist Joseph Hooker, Wallace’s paper was read at a scientific meeting in London, along with some scattered materials from Darwin’s letters and manuscripts. This episode spurred Darwin to condense a planned “big species book” into a manageable manuscript, which was published in November 1859. The 1,250 original copies of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life quickly sold out, and additional printings and editions (eventually some six in all) soon began to roll off the presses.


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