[Darwin, Charles]. Francis Darwin, Ed.
The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Including an Autobiographical Chapter.
Seller ID: 1173
London: John Murray, 1887. First edition, in three volumes (ix, 395; 393; 418, appendices, index), illustrated with three frontispieces and several other engravings reproduced from the popular press. Tall octavo (22 cm.), in blue-green publisher's cloth, gilt titles to spines. The first 160 pages or so of Volume I comprise a brief ancestral history, an autobiographical sketch (apparently much shortened) intended originally for Darwin's wife and children, and a description of Darwin's daily habits and practices by Sir Francis Darwin, his son and the editor of the collection. The first of these many letters, characteristically, begs the help of J. M. Herbert, a university friend, in collecting several varieties of beetles Darwin was eager to examine. A commentator in the TLS once mentioned Darwin wrote six million words (more or less, I imagine) in his long life; a great many of them are collected here, arranged topically and chronologically, portraying Darwin's daily communications with others, suggesting his prodigeous capacity for work, and proving how much one might accomplish absent the convenience of telephones and the distractions of television. For the most part the text of the three volumes remains unopened (and unread) and will require the careful application of a paper-knife to access the text of the letters-- careful, because Murray's paper is slowly becoming age-toned and a bit dry. One signature in the second volume is loosened but still attached, spine ends and corners are slightly worn, cloth spine of volume two a bit bubbled here and there. Save these quite minor faults, a very attractive copy of the first edition of Darwin's collected letters (about ten years later an additional collection, also by Francis Darwin, was published).
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