RESOURCES: The Darwin Reader

Science  27 Feb 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5662, pp. 1267
DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5662.1267c

Before The Origin of Species put the Victorians off their tea, Charles Darwin was famous as the author of a popular travelogue and a heap of scientific publications. Thanks to historian John van Wyhe of the University of Cambridge, U.K., you can browse most of Darwin's oeuvre at this site, which holds transcripts of papers, letters, books, and other writings. The collection includes lesser known works such as the unpublished 1842 and 1844 essays in which he first sketched his ideas on evolution through natural selection. You can also delve into the hard-to-find first edition of The Origin of Species, which the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould described as the most coherent statement of Darwin's argument, free of the hedging of later editions. Even his quotidian publications can provide insight into his thinking. In an 1855 Gardeners' Chronicle blurb, for instance, he noted that some seeds could survive 6 weeks' immersion in salt water, suggesting a way for plants to colonize remote islands without the need for a divine landscaper.

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