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DARWIN, Charles; Robert Fitzroy; Philip Parker King.

Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle,

between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagle's circumnavigation of the globe.

London : 1839 Stock Code: 136908
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First edition, first issue, the Darwin volume printed before he was elected to the Royal Society and so without the letters F.R.S. after his name on the second title. The accounts of the voyages of HMS Adventure and Beagle include Darwin's first published book, his Journal and Remarks, "now famous as the genesis of his theory of evolutionary biology" (Hill). It is an outstanding account of natural history exploration, describing the fieldwork that ultimately led to the Origin of Species. "The five years of the voyage were the most important event in Darwin's intellectual life and in the history of biological science" (DSB). Darwin himself would state that "The voyage of the 'Beagle' has been by far the most important event in my life, and has determined my whole career... I have always felt that I owe to the voyage the first real training or education of my mind; I was led to attend closely to several branches of natural history, and thus my powers of observation were improved" (Life and Letters, 1887, vol. I, p. 61).
Volume I contains King's account of the expedition in the Adventure made between 1826 and 1830, surveying the coasts of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. In Volume II (and its appendix bound separately as issued) Captain Fitzroy describes the narrative of the Beagle's second voyage between 1831 and 1836, to South America, the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia, and other countries. Volume III is Darwin's account of the Beagle's voyage. The popularity of Darwin's volume exceeded the companion volumes, leading to Colburn bringing out a separate edition of it in the same year.

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4 volumes, octavo (228 x 141 mm). Contemporary calf, expertly rebacked to style retaining original brown morocco labels, spines gilt in compartments, sides with two-line gilt rules and beaded roll in blind, marbled endpapers, brown speckled edges.


With 48 engraved plates (including 2 frontispieces and 1 folding map), 8 other folding engraved maps bound at rear of respective volumes.


Complete with all half-titles, addenda, errata, and binder's instructions; the appendix volume without the publisher's advertisements sometimes found, but Freeman notes that many copies were issued without them. A few patches of very light rubbing to calf, light discolouration around spines and foot of vol. II part II, minor wear to tips, but bindings generally in excellent condition. Maps and plates with a few tiny tears around stubs, one split along fold of map in vol. II part I, but without the repairs and frequent tearing often seen. The contents exceptionally fresh, with a few instances of very minor toning, foxing, or soiling but generally clean and unblemished throughout. An excellent copy.


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