The long-lost revision sheets of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, that specified corrections for the second edition of the foundational work of evolutionary biology, is expected to fetch up to £5,00,000 at an auction in the U.K.
The fact of these revised sheets has long been known from Darwin’s correspondence, but their whereabouts and even survival has remained a mystery to scholars.
The rediscovery of the present annotated copy allows for the first time a precise reading of Darwin’s exact revisions without the veil of reconstruction and translation, provides an insight into his working method, and documents the further development of his ideas for his ‘big book’, according to the Christie’s auction house in the U.K.
In replying to the proposal to issue a second German edition, Darwin wrote to his German translator H. G. Bronn, wanting to “make a few more corrections on clean sheets of the last English Edition” and asked for his patience.
“I have compared the sheets of the Third English Edition with the Second which was translated into German, & have marked with a pencil line all the additions & corrections,” Darwin wrote to Bronn after finishing the work few weeks later.
Darwin’s revisions were recently reconstructed by collating the texts of the second German and third English editions and taking into account additions and corrections noted in Darwin’s own copy of the third English edition now kept at the Cambridge University Library.
The autograph revisions were sent to his German translator for incorporation into the second German edition. The majority of Darwin’s revisions were then incorporated into the fourth English and all subsequent editions, thereby remaining Darwin’s definitive text.