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Books by Charles Darwin

by Gert Korthof, 19 Oct 2006 (updated 4 Sep 2015)

See also:

books by Richard Dawkins

Charles Darwin

For the most complete website of the works of Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882) visit the site:
  • Darwin Online (by John van Wyhe).
    "The world's largest and most widely used resource on Charles Darwin". A complete book can be loaded in your browser and searched. Does not contain the (complete) correspondence of Darwin.
  • Darwin Correspondence Project full texts of more than 7,500 of Charles Darwin's letters. It contains letters that are not present at John van Wyhe's website. However, not every letter is transcribed: "The full text of this letter is not yet available online".
Other websites:

book 1842, "The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs".
"in which Darwin presented a hypothesis that solved the riddle of how coral reefs grow, where they grow, and why. Steve Jones Coral: A Pessimist in Paradise, in his first chapter, explains how Darwin came to his hypothesis, how it shaped all subsequent research on coral reefs, and how drilling into Pacific atolls, conducted in support of nuclear bomb tests, ultimately confirmed it. Darwin's book relied on the simple but profound idea that 'lowly' organisms, here coral polyps, pursuing their own tiny goals, through their sheer numbers and over the immensity of time, could play major roles on the geological stage. This is also a theme in his 1859 book The Origin of Species, whose detractors could not fathom the transformative power of small, between-generation changes occurring over eons. This simple idea was again the theme of his 1881 book on the slow, subterranean work of earthworms, The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms, to which he devoted his final years." (1).

book 1859 "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or Preservation of favored Races in the Struggle for Life" (six editions)
Darwin's most famous book. In short: "There are at least two main positions defended in the Origin: (a) that common ancestry accounts for the main patterns of data within comparative anatomy, paleontology, biogeography, systematics, and so on; and (b) that natural selection provides the chief means by which populations change over time. Evidence for natural selection is predominantly provided in the first four chapters of the Origin, while common ancestry is defended in most of the remaining chapters." (Doren Recker)

  • Here is an on-line verson of the first edition of Darwin's revolutionary work. Each chapter can be downloaded separately. The on-line version makes full-text search (per chapter) possible.
  • All 6 editions of the Origin (plus translations) and a general introduction can be found on The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online, which is the most complete site with online works of Darwin. The code for 6th edition is: F401 .
  • See here for the covers of 12 of the 410 editions of The Origin (near bottom of the page).
  • Morse Peckham (editor) 2006 CHARLES DARWIN'S ORIGIN OF SPECIES. A Variorum Text, 816 pp. University of Pennsylvania Press. This edition traces all the changes Darwin made in the subsequent editions of the Origin. Info. See review in The Times Literary Supplement, March 14, 2007.
  • On the Origin of Species: The Preservation of Favoured Traces: visual animation of changes to the 6 editions of The Origin as they unfold through time by Ben Fry.
  • audio mp3 audio files of The Origin of Species: Project Gutenberg.
  • Blogging The Origin is a blog about The Origin chapter-by-chapter by John Whitfield (author of 'In the Beat of a Heart')
  • 'The Annotated Origin: A Facsimile of the First Edition of On the Origin of Species', Harvard University Press, Hardcover, 2009, annotated by James T. Costa. The original text and the annotations are side by side on the same page, which is very helpful and neatly done. Info (plus free Introduction). The only disadvantage of this edition is that we cannot follow the changes made by Darwin in the subsequent editions of the Origin.
  • 'On the Origin of Species: The Illustrated Edition', Sterling 2008. Info. With more than 350 illustrations and photos.
  • new Jan A. Pechenik (2014) The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species as Edited for Modern Readers. Sinauer.
    Chapters 1 to 8 of the final 1872 Sixth Edition. This book is the product of careful editing of Darwin's sixth 1872 edition into current American English, and includes 97 drawings and color photographs of the various plants and animals that Darwin writes about. Darwin added a new chapter: 7: 'Miscellaneous Objections to the Theory of Natural Selection' in the sixth edition (not present in the first edition). The many pictures make this version of The Origin a attractive. So, if you ever are going to read The Origin, buy this one. Noteworthy: Pechenik added footnotes to indicate where Darwin was wrong. It is really a pity that only the first 8 chapters are included. Note: I don't know why Pechenik did not use the final 1876 edition of The Origin. Also, I noted that Pechenik did not include 'AN HISTORICAL SKETCH'. For links and videos: The Companion Website for The Readable Darwin. See also extensive customer review of Pechenik's colleague at amazon.

book 1862 "On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects"
The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online: ID = F800.
"As diverse as orchid flowers are, Darwin argued, they all serve basically the same function, namely, to enlist flying insects in their cross-pollination, and thus avoid inhreeding." (John Beatty, 2012, p. 21)

(see also Alister McGrath 67)

book 1868 "The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication"
ID for full text is: F877 on The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online.
(See also: Kirschner p.17)

book 1871 "The Descent of Man, and selection in Relation to Sex."
Volume 1 (F937) (on The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online)
Volume 2 (F937) (on The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online)
ID is F955 Second edition.
Print editions:
The Descent of Man, Penguin Classic. Edited with an introduction by James Moore and Adrian Desmond
Princeton University Press (1981) 475 pages. The PUP edtion is a photoreproduction of the 1871 edition of J. Murray, With a new introduction by J.T. Bonner and R.M. May (1981).
The advantage of a print edition is the Introduction of a classic text to the modern reader.

  • different page My review of The Descent.
  • Paul Ekman (2010) Darwin's Compassionate View of Human Nature, JAMA February 10, 2010. (Journal of the American Medical Association) pdf (recommended)
  • Geoffrey M. Hodgson (2013) The Enduring Relevance of Darwin's Theory of Morality, BioScience 63(7):513-514. 2013


book 1872 "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals"
In this work Darwin sought to explain much of our emotional behaviour in terms of instincts inherited from our animal ancestors.
ID of the Full text: F1142 on The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online complete with all the beautiful illustrations.
The word 'sympathy' is used 28×, the word 'empathy' is not present (use control F in your browser to find words).
Recent discussions:

  • 2009 Anniversary Edition of The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, [Oxford University Press, USA; 4 edition (2009) Paperback] edited by psychologist Paul Ekman: this edition is the first to appear the way Darwin ultimately intended, with all of the corrections and additions that were in Darwin's notes for a revision that was never published during his lifetime.
  • Paul Ekman (2006) Darwin and Facial Expression: A Century of Research in Review.
  • Paul Ekman (Editor) (2003) Emotions Inside Out: 130 Years After Darwin's the Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences) [Paperback].
  • Paul Ekman 1998 'Introduction To The Third Edition' OF CHARLES DARWIN'S THE EXPRESSION OF THE EMOTIONS IN MAN AND ANIMALS (HarperCollins). pdf

book 1881 "The formation of vegetable mould, through the action of worms, with observations on their habits"
The Classic Literature Library project has a free on-line version of this book.
ID of Full text on The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online: F1357.

book "Autobiographies ", Charles Darwin (Author), Michael Neve, Sharon Messenger (Editors), 2002 Penguin Classics

book Frederick Burkhardt and Duncan Porter (editors) "The Correspondence Of Charles Darwin", Cambridge University Press.
See review by Jim Endersby in The Times Literary Supplement, March 14, 2007.
See also: Darwin Correspondence Project, University Library, Cambridge, UK.

book Frederick Burkhardt (editor) (2008) "Origins. Selected Letters of Charles Darwin, 1822-1859", Cambridge University Press.

book Frederick Burkhardt, Alison Pearn, Samantha Evans (2008) "Evolution. Selected Letters of Charles Darwin 1860-1870", Cambridge University Press.


  1. Daniel Pauly (2007) 'Trouble in paradise', Nature 447, 33-34 (3 May 2007)

Further Reading:

  • Darwin Correspondence Project: The complete texts of letters from 1837 to 1859 are now available online, together with details of all known letters including brief summaries.
  • Reviews of Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist by Adrian Desmond and James Moore: Sara Miles, NewScientist.
  • Michael Ruse and Robert J. Richards, Eds. (2008) 'The Cambridge Companion to the "Origin of the Species"', Cambridge University Press, New York, 2008 Hardback: 423 pp.
  • Hand-written annotations Charles Darwin made on 700 of the books in his personal library.
  • different page The Descent of Man is reviewed here (on this site).

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Copyright ©G. Korthof 2006 First published: 1 Oct 2006 Updated: 4 Sep 2015 F.R.: 18 Sep 13