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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: Henry Colburn, 1839 Stock Code: 142669
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Darwin's first published book; the copy of the Bodleian Library

First edition, first issue throughout (spines lettered "Colburn, London", the Darwin volume with the omission of the letters F.R.S. after his name on the second title); this set formerly the copy of the Bodleian library in Oxford, with their duplicate de-accession labels, stamps, and marks to the front endpapers and early leaves of each volume.

The accounts of the voyages of HMS Adventure and Beagle include Darwin's first published book, his Journal and Remarks (now popularly known under its later title The Voyage of the Beagle), "famous as the genesis of his theory of evolutionary biology" (Hill). As Freeman notes, of Darwin's books this "is undoubtedly the most often read and stands second only to On the Origin of Species as the most often printed" (Freeman, p. 31).

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, vol. I, p. 61).

Volume I contains Philip Parker 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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3 volumes in 4 (vols. I-III and Appendix to vol. II), quarto. Original blue fine-diaper cloth, spines lettered in gilt, sides blocked in blind, cream endpapers.


With 8 folding engraved maps in cover pockets and 48 engraved plates (including two frontispieces and one folding map).


Bookseller's ticket of Thornton & Son of Oxford to front pastedowns. Expert repair to some joints and hinges, very light rubbing to cloth and sunning to spines, trivial splitting to front joint of vol. III, contents clean; an excellent set in the original cloth.


Freeman 10; Hill I, pp. 104-5; Sabin 37826.


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