Vast personal library of Charles Darwin uncovered for the first time
The complete library of Charles Darwin - consisting of 13,000 books, pamphlets and journals - has been revealed for the first time.
Arguably the most influential scientist in history, the botanist accumulated a vast personal collection of books throughout his working life.
But, until now, 85 per cent of its contents were unknown or unpublished.
Coinciding with the 215th anniversary of Darwin's birth in Shrewsbury, The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online has released an online 300-page catalogue detailing his complete personal library.
It consists of 7,400 titles across 13,000 volumes and includes books, pamphlets and journals.
Previous lists only had 15 per cent of his whole collection.
Darwin's library has also been virtually re-assembled with 9,300 links to copies of the works freely available online.
The project has been led by Dr John van Wyhe, of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Biological Sciences.
He said: "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.
"Indeed, the size and range of works in the library makes manifest the extraordinary extent of Darwin's research into the work of others."
After his death aged 73 at Down House in Kent in 1882, much of Darwin's library was preserved and catalogued.
But many other items were dispersed or lost, and details of the vast majority of the contents have never been published until now.
For many years, scholars have referred to Darwin's library as containing 1,480 books, based on those that survive in the two main collections, the University of Cambridge and Down House.
Over 18 years the Darwin Online project has identified thousands of Darwin's obscure references in his own catalogues and lists of items such as pamphlets and journals that were originally in his library.
Each reference required its own "detective story" to discover the publications that Darwin had hurriedly recorded.
Missing details such as author, date or the source of clippings in thousands of records from older catalogues have also been identified for the first time.
A major source of information that helped to reveal the original contents is the 426-page handwritten "Catalogue of the Library of Charles Darwin", compiled from 1875.
Painstaking comparison of its abbreviated entries revealed 440 unknown titles that were originally in the library.
An inventory of Darwin's home made after his death recorded 2,065 bound books and an unknown number of unbound volumes and pamphlets.
In the drawing room alone, 133 titles and 289 volumes of mostly unscientific literature were recorded.
Dr van Wyhe said the legacy duty valuer estimated that the "Scientific Library that is books relating to Science" was worth only £30 and 12 shillings - around £2,000 today.
All the books were valued at only £66 and 10 shillings, about £4,400 today.
Any book that belonged to Darwin is worth a great deal more to collectors today.
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