Journal of Researches

Journal 2nd editionDarwin's Journal of researches, now known as Voyage of the Beagle, was his first book. As Darwin later recalled in his autobiography 'The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event in my life and has determined my whole career'. He went on to write:

As far as I can judge of myself I worked to the utmost during the voyage from the mere pleasure of investigation, and from my strong desire to add a few facts to the great mass of facts in natural science. But I was also ambitious to take a fair place among scientific men...

... The success of this my first literary child always tickles my vanity more than that of any of my other books.

John van Wyhe

Bibliographical introduction by R. B. Freeman

Darwin's Journal has received a brief bibliographical notice from Lady Barlow in her Charles Darwin and the voyage of the Beagle, 1945, but this only goes up to 1870, although the illustrated edition of 1890 is mentioned in the text. His first published book is undoubtedly the most often read and stands second only to On the origin of species as the most often printed. It is an important travel book in its own right and its relation to the background of his evolutionary ideas has often been stressed. The manuscript diary from which it was written up and the little notebooks which formed the memoranda on which the diary was based have all been published, at least in part, in recent years. These are entered here in the section on transcripts of manuscripts, amongst Nos 1566 to 1577.

The first issue forms, as is well known, the third volume of The narrative of the voyages of H.M. Ships Adventure and Beagle, edited by Captain Robert Fitzroy and published, in three volumes and an appendix to Volume II, in 1839. In this form, it bears the subsidiary title Journal and remarks. Since then it has changed its name four times, so that today it is universally referred to as The voyage of the Beagle.

On its first appearance in its own right, also in 1839, it was called Journal of researches into the geology and natural history etc. The second edition, of 1845, transposes 'geology' and 'natural history' to read Journal of researches into the natural history and geology etc., and the spine title is Naturalist's voyage. The final definitive text of 1860 has the same wording on the title page, but the spine reads Naturalist's voyage round the world, and the fourteenth thousand of 1879 places A naturalist's voyage on the title page. The voyage of the Beagle first appears as a title in the Harmsworth Library edition of 1905. It is a bad title: she was only a floating home for Darwin, on which, in spite of good companionship, he was cramped and miserably sea-sick; whilst the book is almost entirely about his expeditions on land. The political and economic intentions of the voyage, on which Darwin was only a supernumerary, have been overshadowed by the success of the Journal. These have been stressed by George Basalla in 'The voyage of the Beagle without Darwin', Mariners Mirror, Vol. 49, pp. 42-48, 1963.

Darwin's volume was ready much earlier than the rest. The manuscript of the main text was finished by June 1837, and it, with the index, was in print early in 1838. The preface was written later and in it he states that 'publication has been unavoidably delayed'. He also states 'I have given a list of those errata (partly caused by my absence from town when some of the sheets were in the press) which affect the sense; and have added an Appendix, containing some additional facts . . . which I have accidentally met with during the past year'. There is no list of errata in Darwin's volume, but several of the notes in the appendix refer to corrections. Darwin's volume has a different printer to the other three and both its maps are dated 1838. The insertion of the appendix a year after the rest was in print results in faulty pagination, with pp. 609-615 repeated, the second set being the index. The printing of the preliminaries and the appendix probably took place before January 24 1839. On that day he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, but the initials do not appear on the title page of Volume III.

The first reference which indicates that the work was out comes in a letter from Darwin's sister-in-law Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood to her aunt Madame J. C. L. Simonde de Sismondi, dated June 5 1839. 'His journal is come out at last along with two other thick volumes of Capt. Fitzroy and Capt. King of the same voyage, but I have not had time to read it yet'. There is no mention of the appendix volume, and this must have been an advance copy. As usually seen, the complete set has publisher's advertisements of 16 + [8] pages, the first set dated August 1839, at the end of the appendix, the last volume to be printed. Many sets contain either advertisements of later date, or none at all. The binding is dark blue, blind-stamped, cloth which is liable to fade; each volume bears its author's name on the spine and the publisher's imprint reads COLBURN/LONDON/. Some later copies omit the authors' names and the imprint reads LONDON/COLBURN/. The top board of each volume contains a pocket for the two loose maps; these pockets should have dark blue ribbons for extracting the maps, but they are often absent today. Seven of the maps were published by Henry Colburn, but the eighth, of South America in Volume I, was by John Arrowsmith and was, presumably, a suitable map already available.

I have no information about the number of sets which were printed, but Darwin remarks, in a letter to his sister Susan dated February 1842, that 1,337 copies of his volume had been sold, and his diary states that Colburn printed 1,500. These figures probably include the two independent issues which are considered below.

I have seen undated Colburn inserted advertisements in a book dated 1849 which advertise a 'Cheaper edition, in 2 large Vols . . . price 11., 11s. 6d. bound.' It is clear, from the description given, that the first volume was Captain King's voyage, and the second Captain Fitzroy's with the appendix bound in; Darwin's volume was not included. The advertisement has a footnote 'N.B. Mr. Darwin's Journal of the Geology and Natural History of the Voyage may be had in a single volume, 8vo, price 18s. bound.' This was four years after the publication by Murray of the second edition of the Darwin; it probably represents a remainder issue in a new binding at a remainder price of the unsold sheets of the King and the Fitzroy volumes, but I have never seen it in this form. The Darwin, which retains its original price, would presumably have been the issue with the 1840 title page, but it is interesting to note that it was still available so long after the appearance of the second edition.

It is remarkable that Colburn's inserted advertisements of August 1839 (p. 10) make no mention of Darwin's contribution to the work although they describe the rest of the contents in considerable detail. It is also remarkable that Darwin's work is advertised quite independently on page 14 of the same advertisements without any mention that it also forms part of the set. The English Catalogue makes it clear that the set was available, with or without Darwin's volume, at £3. 18s. or £2.18s., and that his volume alone cost 18s. What was being advertised as three volumes was really two volumes and the appendix.

It has usually been stated that Darwin's volume was reissued in its own covers later in the same year, because the demand for it was greater than that for the other two volumes of technical narrative. That the demand for it was greater than the rest was probably true, and that it must be considered technically the later issue is certainly correct, because pp. [i-iv] of the preliminaries are cancels and [v-vi], the original volume title, is discarded; the rest, [vii]-xiv, and the text sheets are those of the main work, bearing Vol. III on the first page of each signature. Nevertheless, it is also certain that both were advertised in the same set of advertisements in August 1839. The last leaf of the preliminaries is a singleton c1 and so is the last leaf of the appendix Q***¹; these two may have been a conjugate pair.

It was issued in the same blind stamped boards with map pocket as the set, but with different spine titling; the cloth is usually blue but sometimes a purple which fades to brown. In some copies the maps have been inserted in the text, the Southern portion of South America facing p. 1 and the Keeling Islands p. 539; in these there is no pocket in the front cover. I have seen a copy with the track chart, proper to the Appendix of the set, inserted, but it may have been added later. Most copies have the same 16 pp. advertisements of August 1839 as are found in the Appendix; some also contain a single small inserted leaf advertising the forthcoming publication by Smith Elder of the geological works in one volume, a form in which they did not eventually appear.

The final, third, issue of the first edition is dated 1840 on the title page; it is identical to the second except that the conjugate half-title and title leaves have been reprinted. This is the scarcest of the three, but in my experience the maps are always inserted in the text. Some copies also have the 16 pp inserted advertisements of August 1839, presumably having been sewn up with them but not cased.

De Beer, in his biography 1963, has stressed that in the title of this first edition the word Geology preceded Natural history because the former was uppermost in Darwin's mind at the time, whereas in the second of 1845 the order is reversed. It is certainly true that geological observations predominate in the notebooks made during the voyage. But it is certainly worthy of notice that in the advertised title of August 1839 Natural history comes before Geology.

The second and only other edition was first published in 1845 in John Murray's Colonial and Home Library; Darwin sold the copyright for £150. The text was extensively revised and, according to Lady Barlow, reduced from about 224,000 words to 213,000. The title changes to Natural history and geology; the maps are omitted, to Darwin's regret, not to return until 1890; but the number of woodcuts is increased. It is a miserable piece of printing in small type with mean margins, but then the series was a cheap one.

The Colonial and Home Library, (the name seems to have been interchangeable with Home and Colonial Library from the beginning, but later on only the latter form is found), was originally issued in monthly parts and the Journal forms Nos XXII, XXIII and XXIV. Advertisements in The Athenaeum show No. XXII as 'this day is published' on June 28th (No. 922, p. 626) and the advertisement is repeated exactly on July 5th (No. 923, p. 651). No. XXIII is first advertised on August 2nd (No. 927, p. 754). On August 30th (No. 931, p. 862) a briefer form of Murray's advertisements states 'This day is, published, post 8vo, A naturalist's Voyage round the world. By Charles Darwin. Second Edition, with additions'. No price is given, but it would seem that the three parts were then ready. On October 18th (No. 938, p. 1004) a price of 7s. 6d. is given, which was that for the three parts at 2s. 6d. each. Darwin must have received copies of the parts issue because he sent a copy of PART 1 to Lyell in July, but none now survives at Cambridge. This form, which is the first issue of the second edition, is rare. The pagination is given by Geoffrey West in Charles Darwin, the fragmentary man, 1937, but he does not mention the contents leaves inserted in each number. The details are given in No. 13 below. I have seen only the first two parts, Nos XXII and XXIII bound together in leather. They can however be reconstructed from others, closely contemporary, in the same series. Each had its own contents leaf, headed PART 1 (II, III). The covers were of thin grey-buff card cut flush, bearing the title etc. within a frame. The number in the series was in the top left-hand corner in roman, and the words 'Cheap literature for all classes' ran above 'Murray's Colonial and Home Library', followed by the title. At the bottom, below the imprint, was the price 'Half-a-crown' and the printer's note 'W. Clowes and Sons. Stamford Street'. There would have been advertisements for various Murray series on the other pages of the covers, including one for the Colonial and Home Library itself on the back.

The form in which the second edition is usually seen, which must be considered as the second issue, is, as Volume XII, in the scarlet cloth of the series in book form, with the three contents leaves replaced by a single leaf (pp. [vii]—viii). The earliest advertisements that I have seen for the book are dated December 1845, but the 16 pages of inserted advertisements in it are dated August or November and it probably appeared shortly after the publication of the third part on or about October 18th. In this form it was put on to plates and was the basis of a number of later issues.

There are however two quite separate issues which are both dated 1845 on the title pages: these have not usually been distinguished. In the first, the genuine second issue, there is a printer's note on the verso of the title leaf and advertisements for Darwin's other works, printed or in preparation, on p. 520 (= 2L4). In the second, the third issue, the versos of both title leaf and 2L4 are blank, and the inserted advertisements are dated May 1848. Copies in the original scarlet cloth of the series are easily distinguished by the gilding of the case. The earlier has 'Colonial and Home Library' gilt at the top of the spine, whilst the later has not. It would seem probable that the later was reprinted in 1848 without changing the date on the title page. The earlier also exists in scarlet leather with the same blind and gilt stamping of the series as the cloth form. Darwin's own copy, at Cambridge, is the only one which I have seen thus and I have not seen it mentioned in advertisements. Finally, there is a red, not scarlet, cloth blind-stamped publisher's case which gives no indication, in gilt or blind, that the work in one of a series; in this case the edges are sprinkled whereas they are white in the series cases.

It was again reprinted in the same series in 1852 and put out in the same case as the third issue, this time with changed date, an issue not mentioned by Lady Barlow. The title page now describes it as a new edition, instead of second, although there is no change. It appears again in 1860 and this is the final text as Darwin left it. The parts from the original stereos are the same, but a postscript, dated February 1st 1860, is added to the preliminaries. This is the tenth thousand and it no longer forms part of the Home and Colonial Library, but is in a green cloth case in the same style as that of the first three editions of On the origin of species. The page height is nearly two centimetres greater than before and the wider margins give the whole book a much better appearance. Inserted advertisements in this edition may be as late as September 1868.

It was reprinted in this form from 1870, although with the preliminaries reset, until the eighteenth thousand of 1888, when it was reset, but the postscript is retained in this new edition. This postscript contains three references to pages in the text and these have not been altered to suit the new setting of type so that all three are wrong. The cases continue to follow those of The Origin, ending up in standard green cloth in 1882. What is called a new edition appeared in 1890. The type was again reset and this time the matter of the postscript, as well as a note on the last page of text which had been there since 1845, is incorporated in footnotes in the proper places in the text.

In the same year, a large paper illustrated edition appeared which also incorporates the additions as footnotes. This is a fine edition, with eleven plates, two maps, and a much increased number of text figures. Some of these illustrations are based on original drawings made by members of the expedition, including one (p. 427) by Darwin himself which has not been reproduced elsewhere, a miserable little scribble of a cactus. Some copies contain an additional plate with two diagrams of the layout of the Beagle. These, although not acknowledged, are by Philip Gidley King, who was a midshipman on the Beagle and a son of the commander of the Adventure on the first voyage, Captain Philip Parker King. The details of the discovery of their origin are given by Lady Barlow (q.v) who reproduces them and other drawings. They are also reproduced by Joseph Richard Slevin in 'The Galápagos Islands: a history of their exploration', (Occ. Pap. Calif. Acad. Sci., No. XXV, 150 pp, 1959). Slevin also gives details of special equipment carried on the ship which is not given elsewhere. This 1890 edition is in a handsome case and has a page-marker of blue silk, one of the very few that I have seen in any Darwin. Nelson had published an illustrated edition in 1888 which was reprinted in 1890 and later; Murray's edition was presumably in competition with it.

The Murray edition of 1901 and subsequent reprints of it contain sixteen plates giving all the illustrations which are present, either in plates or as text figures, in that of 1890, including the one of the layout. The last Murray printing is in 1913; it is in the same form and a similar case to that of 1890. The verso of the half-title leaf bears a list of editions in which that of 1860 is called the first and ten subsequent ones up to 1890 are called second to eleventh editions. This list bears remarkably little relation to the facts.

The very many English editions published after the work came out of copyright are of no particular interest; most are printed from the text of 1845, with or without the postscript of 1860. None, so far as I am aware, uses the consolidated text of 1890, which would seem to be the sensible procedure. Early issues in the Everyman Library are odd in that they revert to the first title Geology and natural history, although the text is that of 1860. It has appeared from book clubs, both beautifully and badly produced, as well as in potted versions for children and in précis. Recently there have been facsimilies of the first edition, both of the whole Narrative and of Darwin's volume alone. The 1845 second edition has not appeared in facsimile, although there is one of a New York issue of 1896.

The first American edition appeared as two volumes in Harper's New Miscellany in 1846, based on Murray's 1845; it continued to be printed many times unchanged and without the postscript until the turn of the century. Because Darwin did not own the copyright after 1845 and, perhaps, because the book did not contain original work or ideas he does not seem to have been so enthusiastic about translations as he was for his other books. Nevertheless, the first edition appeared in German in 1844, at the instigation of Baron von Humboldt, and the second in Danish, French, German, Italian, Russian and Swedish, in his lifetime; also in a further sixteen languages since then. The best illustrated edition, in any language, is the Spanish of 1942, printed in Buenos Aires with 121 plates. There is no fully illustrated edition in print, but the work can be usefully supplemented by the pictures in Alan Moorehead Darwin and the Beagle, London 1969. It has 187 illustrations, 50 of them in colour, mostly relating to the voyage and to the book.

Click here for a full bibliographical list.

The narrative of the voyages of H.M. Ships Adventure and Beagle. London: Henry Colburn [1st ed.] 3 vols & appendix:

King, P. P. 1839. Proceedings of the first expedition, 1826-30. Text Image PDF F10.1

FitzRoy, R. 1839. Proceedings of the second expedition, 1831-36. Text Image PDF F10.2

[FitzRoy, R.] 1839. Appendix. Text Image PDF F10.2a

Darwin. 1839. Journal and remarks. 1832-1836. Text Image PDF F10.3

1839. Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by H.M.S. Beagle. London: Henry Colburn. Image PDF F11

1845. Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle round the world. London: John Murray. 2d ed. Text Image PDF F14

1860. Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle round the world. London: John Murray. 10th thousand. (Final text) Text Image F20

1880. What Mr. Darwin saw in his voyage round the world in the ship "Beagle". [by an anon. compiler] (Images from Internet archive) Image F36

1890. Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the various countries visited by H.M.S. Beagle etc. London: John Murray. [Illustrated ed.] Text Image PDF F59

1890. Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of H.M.S. "Beagle" etc. With a biographical introduction [by G. T. Bettany]. 7th edn. London: Ward Lock (Minerva Library No. 1). Image PDF F60

1890. Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the various countries visited by H.M.S. Beagle etc. London: Thomas Nelson. Image PDF F63

1905. The voyage of the "Beagle". Image F106 [Cover and front matter only.]

Danish Click to see illustrations

1870. Rejseiagttagelser. Introduction Image PDF F1834

1876. Rejse om Jorden. Introduction Text Image PDF F174


[1891.] De reis van de "Beagle": dagboek van de onderzoekingen. Image PDF F176


1875. Voyage d'un naturaliste autour du monde. Image PDF F181


1844. Naturwissenschaftliche Reise. [2 vols. in 1] Image PDF1 PDF2 F188


[1872.] Viaggio di un naturalista intorno al mondo. Text Image PDF F211


1997. Viagens do Adventure e do Beagle: Diário e anotações, 1832-1836. (Journal and remarks, chapter 1) Text F2037


1976. Journal of Researches. 3d ed. Text F1922


1921. Diaro del viaje de un naturalista alrededor del mundo.
Vol. 1 Image PDF F252.1
Vol. 2 Image PDF F252.2

1942. Viaje de un naturalista alrededor del mundo. Image PDF F255


1872. En naturforskares Resa omkring jorden. Image PDF F259


From: Freeman, R. B. 1977. The Works of Charles Darwin: An Annotated Bibliographical Handlist. 2nd edn. Dawson: Folkstone.

NOTE: With thanks to The Charles Darwin Trust and Dr Mary Whitear for use of the Bibliographical Handlist. Copyright. All rights reserved. For private academic use only. Not for republication or reproduction in whole or in part without the prior written consent of The Charles Darwin Trust, 14 Canonbury Park South London N1 2JJ.

Corrections and additions copyright The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online - National University of Singapore.


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