On the Origin of Species (Limited Edition)

Charles Darwin

Introduced by A. C. Grayling

Picture selection by William Bynum
Limited to 500 hand-numbered copies

The book that revolutionised our view of life on earth more than any other, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, is presented in a fabulous Folio Society limited edition of 500 numbered copies; half-bound in leather with hand-marbled paper sides.

£500.00
£500.00
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Man selects only for his own good; Nature only for that of the being which she tends.


In the book that changed our view of life on earth, Charles Darwin challenged the place of the human race at the centre of creation and started a scientific revolution. Evolution by natural selection had been discussed in academic works, but Darwin’s energetic prose was written to be read and understood by the general public and led to its author being described as ‘the most dangerous man in England’.

Half-bound in goatskin leather blocked in gold foil with lettering and ornaments by Jamie Clarke, and with hand-marbled paper sides by Jemma Lewis, this edition is worthy of the best collections. A. C. Grayling’s insightful introduction and Darwin expert William Bynum’s inspired selection of 40 pages of plates illuminate the text, that of the first edition from 1859. Charles Darwin’s book for ever altered the history of mankind and, in highlighting the synergy between life forms and environment, was a pioneer work of ecology – ever more important in our world today.

An edition that is not limited of On the Origin of Species is available here.

Limited to 500 hand-numbered copies 

Half-bound in goatskin leather blocked in gold foil with lettering and ornaments by Jamie Clarke 

Marbled paper sides by Jemma Lewis 

Set in Garamond with Victoria Titling as display 

448 pages of text printed on Munken Pure paper 

Frontispiece and 40 pages of plates printed on Symbol Tatami paper  

Gilded page tops and fore-edges 

Ribbon marker 

Cloth-covered slipcase blocked in gold foil with lettering and ornaments by Jamie Clarke 

11½˝ x 8˝

‘The remarkable feature of On the Origin of Species … is that it is not only a classic of science but a classic of literature.’
  1. A. C. Grayling, from his introduction


The theory of evolution was already well known in the 1850s, when Darwin was writing; it was the theory of natural selection that was groundbreaking. Following his five-year voyage as a natural scientist aboard the Beagle, Darwin reached the conclusion that the different species had not been created by God as described in Genesis, but rather that life, once begun, developed in all its glorious diversity through a process of gradual change forced by the struggle for existence. Anxious about the impact of his ideas, Darwin did not reveal his work for almost 20 years, until he learnt that Alfred Russel Wallace’s research had led him to similar conclusions. Close friends urged Darwin to publish and so, six months after papers by both men were jointly presented to the Linnean Society on 1 July 1858, the first edition of On the Origin of Species was launched – selling out on the day of publication.

The book which explores one of the most important ideas of the last 200 years, namely the story of life on earth, is paired perfectly with introducer A. C. Grayling – a philosopher who has worked on the history of ideas and who appreciates Origin both as great science and as great literature. And to illuminate this extraordinary book further, Darwin expert William Bynum has closely matched more than 40 fabulous images to the text, describing each one in fascinating captions. Jemma Lewis was chosen to hand-marble the paper sides, ensuring that every book is unique. She based the colours of her designs on the plumage of the birds and the iridescent beetles’ wings in the pictures Bynum selected to complete this superb limited edition.

About Charles Darwin

Born in 1809 in Shropshire, to a wealthy, well-educated family, Charles Robert Darwin studied at Edinburgh and Cambridge before joining a Royal Navy ship, the Beagle, as a natural scientist in December 1831. Five years later he returned and wrote his first bestseller – an account of his travels and of the flora and fauna he had collected. His work on The Voyage of the Beagle led to his theory of evolution through natural selection set out in On the Origin of Species in 1859. Darwin wrote over 20 books and countless scientific papers. He died in 1882 and is buried in Westminster Abbey.

About A. C. Grayling

A. C. Grayling is the Principal of Northeastern University London, and its Professor of Philosophy. He is also a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford. He is the author of over 30 books of philosophy, biography, history of ideas, and essays. He was for a number of years a columnist on the Guardian, the Times, and Prospect magazine. He has contributed to many leading newspapers in the UK, US and Australia, and to BBC radio; and has often appeared on television. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Vice President of Humanists UK, Patron of the Defence Humanists, Honorary Associate of the Secular Society, and a Patron of Dignity in Dying.

About William Bynum

William Bynum is Professor Emeritus of the History of Medicine at University College London. Originally from Texas, he studied medicine at Yale before forging a career as a historian in Britain, researching the impact of evolutionary thinking. He now writes and reviews for Nature, the Wall Street Journal and the Lancet, among other publications, and is also the author or co-author of many popular books on the history of science, among them A Little History of Science, Remarkable Plants that Shape Our World and Botanical Sketchbooks. For Penguin Books he introduced and annotated Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 2009. 

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