Newly Catalogued Collection

I am pleased to announce that the Jack Johns Darwin Collection is now fully catalogued and available for consultation in Special Collections.

Donated in 2008, Mr. Johns’ Darwin Collection is the result of over 30 years of collecting books by and about Charles Darwin. Following a boyhood fascination with evolutionary theory, Mr. Johns’ interest in Charles Darwin also led him to acquire items relating to members of the Darwin family and members of the scientific community in which Charles Darwin worked. Charles’ paternal grandfather, Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), published volumes about biology and of poetry, including Zoonomia (1794) and The loves of the plants : a poem, with philosophical notes (1791). Josiah Wedgwood was Charles Darwin’s maternal grandfather, so there are also items relating to the Wedgwood dynasty in this collection.

Items relating to other scientists include various works by Joseph Dalton Hooker and Thomas Huxley, Charles Lyell on elements of geology, and two nineteenth century books of the natural theologian William Paley. In addition, Mr Johns collected a small number of works relating to Alfred Russel Wallace, a naturalist and explorer who arrived at his own theory of evolution by natural selection independent of Darwin. On the Tendency of Species to Form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection (republished in Evolution by Natural Selection, 1958) was the long title by which the two men publically announced their theories jointly in July 1858. Another interesting item in this collection is an 1890 edition of Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle, published by John Murray, containing the presentation note: ‘H. W. Bates Esq. With the Publishers’ compli[iments] Feb[uary] 1890′. Henry Walter Bates was an explorer and naturalist who joined Alfred Russel Wallace on an expedition to the Amazon in 1848.

Publisher's note to H.W. Bates

Handwritten presentation note to H.W. Bates.

The central section of Mr Johns’ collection is based around his endeavour to acquire every edition of Darwin’s most important works, the vast majority of which were published by John Murray in London. These provide an insight into the editing and corrections of each successive edition, and prove the popularity of Darwin’s works.

For more information about this collection and Mr Jack Johns, see our collections information pages or search the library catalogue.

This collection also compliments the Maddison Collection, which focuses on natural theology and early science of the  seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

If you would like to look at any of the items in these, or any of our collections, please email to make an appointment.

Leave a Reply