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View Charles Darwin's Entire Personal Library

The entire contents of the eclectic personal library of naturalist Charles Darwin is now available to view online. The 9,300 entries come with links to the works, making them freely available to read.

Charles Darwin
Painting of Charles Darwin by John Collier

The completed library is detailed in a 300 page catalogue, featuring 7,400 titles across 13,000 volumes, and contains a wonderfully diverse mix of books, pamphlets and journals.

“This unprecedentedly detailed view of Darwin’s complete library allows one to appreciate more than ever that he was not an isolated figure working alone but an expert of his time building on the sophisticated science and studies and other knowledge of thousands of people," says lead researcher John van Wyhe from the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore. "Indeed, the size and range of works in the library makes manifest the extraordinary extent of Darwin’s research into the work of others."

As van Whye observes, it's far more than a list of titles. Unsurprisingly, much of the material focuses on scientific subjects, as you'd expect from the naturalist whose 1859 work On the Origin of the Species - or, for the purists, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life - formed the foundation of evolutionary biology, there was also much more on the bookshelves of the great man's library.

After Darwin's death in 1882, the contents of his library were catalogued and preserved, but many items were lost along the way. This new complete library builds on what we knew existed, which can be found in two collections, one at the University of Cambridge and another at Down House (his home).

Dive into the rabbit hole that is The Complete Library of Charles Darwin.


Mystery of Darwin's Stolen Journals: Seminal works left in pink gift bag with ‘Happy Easter’ note for a Cambridge librarian after going missing twenty years ago. Read on...


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