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Lot #119
Charles Darwin Autograph Letter Signed

Darwin on the Origin of Species: "My Book has been far more successful as yet, than I dreamed of"

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Darwin on the Origin of Species: "My Book has been far more successful as yet, than I dreamed of"

ALS signed “C. Darwin,” two pages on two adjoining sheets, 5 x 8, January 29, [1860]. Handwritten letter to his former teacher, John Stevens Henslow, in part: "The measles has gone like wild-fire through the house, but we are now quit of it. We shall be delighted to see you here, whenever you can spare the time…I shall be particularly glad to hear any of your objections to my views, when we meet. My Book has been far more successful as yet, than I dreamed of—The two last chapters are in my opinion the strongest." In fine condition.

Henslow was a friend and mentor to Charles Darwin, credited with inspiring his passion for natural history. When Henslow's wife dissuaded him from accepting a position as naturalist to sail aboard the survey ship HMS Beagle during its two-year voyage to survey South America, he wrote to Captain Robert FitzRoy to recommend Darwin in his stead. Darwin would draw upon evidence collected on the famed Beagle expedition in developing his influential evolutionary theories posited in On the Origin of Species.

Upon the book's publication on November 24, 1859, Darwin had his publisher, John Murray, forward a copy to Henslow. At that time, Darwin wrote to Henslow, 'I fear…that you will not approve of your pupil in this case,' but requested his thoughts on the work. Henslow indeed had reservations about Darwin's evolutionary ideas, but respected the immediate and influential impact of On the Origin of Species. In a May 1860 letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker, Henslow admitted: 'I do not disguise my own opinion that Darwin has pressed his hypothesis too far—but at the same time I assert my belief that his Book is (as Owen described it to me) the ‘Book of the Day.’'

Though much of the correspondence between Darwin and Henslow has been catalogued by the Darwin Correspondence Project, this letter appears to be unpublished. A remarkable autograph letter by Darwin alluding to the great success of his most important work.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts, Ft. Science & Tech
  • Dates: #622 - Ended December 08, 2021

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