On the Origin of Species

The cover of the Danish translation of On the Origin of Species

On the Origin of Species was published in 1250 copies. All the books were sold to book stores that same day and immediately created both scientific and public interest. During Darwin’s life no less than six editions were published. The second edition in 3000 copies was already available on January 6th 1860.

Darwin himself referred to the book as ”one long argument”. The crucial point was the rebellion against the prevailing idea that the species were unchangeable and created at the same time. In a beautiful and rich language Darwin presented an overwhelming material. Darwin himself had collected a large part of the material through more than 25 years, on his voyage with the HMS Beagle, through conversations with people who worked with breeding, and in the surroundings of Down House. The material also synthesized relevant specialist literature and help from colleagues and correspondents from all over the world who answered concrete questions. Darwin himself wanted to write a different book. The result, which he found himself pressured to finish in record time due to the circumstances, became a classic in science and world literature. No matter what you thought of Darwin’s ideas, On the Origin of Species could not be ignored. The book changed how we looked at nature and ourselves. The world was simply different after Darwin.

Peter C. Kjærgaard