This being the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth – and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his masterwork – many folks seem to have the goal of reading Origin for the first time. Generally speaking the first edition of 1859 (or the second of 1860) is taken as the best edition to begin with – in later editions Darwin muddies his ideas in response to critics and it becomes increasingly difficult to clearly delineate what “Darwinism” entails.
David Quammen has produced a very nice edition of Origin that relies on the first edition for its text but supplements it with extracts from The Voyage of the Beagle and Darwin’s Autobiography while simultaneous profusely illustrating it with period illustrations, Darwinalia, and modern photos of species that Darwin refers to. All-in-all this is an excellent way for the Darwin neophyte to experience Origin and get some nice background into Darwin’s life and time. Highly recommended!
Ref: Charles Darwin (2008) On The Origin of Species: The Illustrated Edition (David Quammen, ed.) Sterling, 560 pp. [amazon]