The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online

April 7, 2009 • 8:40 pm

by Greg Mayer

I’m slipping in to make a quick plug here for one my favorite websites, The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online, and its founder and director, John van Wyhe of Christ’s College, Cambridge. The website contains text and image copies of at least one edition of all Darwin’s works (and often of many other editions as well), an updated version of Freeman’s bibliographical handlist, and many, many other useful things; check it out yourself. It is undoubtedly the best scholarly website ever.  John is the rising star of the new generation of Darwin scholars.

Dr. John van Wyhe
Dr. John van Wyhe

For those of you in or near southeastern Wisconsin, he will be speaking on Wednesday, April 8 at 7 PM at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, on Darwin: the True Story.  The talk is part of UWP’s Darwin 1809-1859-2009 commemoration of the  Darwin bi- and sesquicentennials, and is free and open to the public. Details here.

6 thoughts on “The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online

  1. Yes, the Darwin website is superb, but let me also give a plug to Charles Smith’s website for Alfred Russel Wallace here:

    There are also excellent websites for Francis Galton, T. H.Huxley, Lamarck, Buffon, and R. A. Fisher which you can find with a little Googling.

  2. I’ve been to this web site and it is truly amazing. I intend to read at least one online version of “On the Origin of Species”.

    Any suggestions on whether I should read the first or sixth version?

  3. For many years the conventional wisdom was that you should read the first edition: it contained Darwin’s first thoughts, unvarnished by later hedging, backing, and filling to respond to criticism. It’s the edition I first read as a graduate student, and it’s the one I had an undergraduate class read last year for a course on Darwin. More recently though, some people have noted that we shouldn’t discount the development of Darwin’s views, and that the best edition is the last one because it contains his final word on the subject. One reason to prefer the first is that it is readily available in a facsimile edition from Harvard, and facsimile editions are more useful for scholarly purposes. I have a facsimile of the 6th (English publisher, at home now so can’t check who), but most current printings are non-facsimile sixths. You could read both (they’re both at Darwin Online); or, Morse Peckham edited a variorum edition in which all the changes from edition to edition are tracked.

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