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Museum talk: Darwin's 1859 On the Origin of Species


Bob Wicks, director of the Miami University Art Museum, will present "From the Author: Presentation Copies of Darwin's 1859 On the Origin of Species" at noon Tuesday, Oct. 13, at the art museum. His talk complements the exhibition "Darwin's Firsts."

The first edition of On the Origin of Species was limited to 1,250 copies; famously the entire edition was sold to the trade on the first day of publication. What is less well known is that 58 copies of Origin were sent out for presentation and review. Of that number, the whereabouts of no more than two dozen can be accounted for.

The presentation copy on exhibit at the art museum is part of the Lloyd Library and Museum’s collection of Darwiniana. The Lloyd Library’s presentation copy was sent to Sir Walter Eliot in Madras, India, providing insight into the dissemination of scientific knowledge in the nineteenth century.

The "firsts" appearing in the exhibition include: the earliest notice of Darwin in print (1828); the first appearance of Darwin's theory of natural selection in print (1858); Darwin's first edition of On the Origin of Species (1859); the first use by Darwin of the phrase "survival of the fittest"; and the first Darwin publication to use the word "evolution." These publications are from the Lloyd Library and Museum.

"Darwin's Firsts" will run through December 12. The talk and exhibition are free and open to the public. For more information contact the art museum at 529-2232 or go to


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