Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Darwin’s groundbreaking book to go on show in Leeds

Caption: Darwin's book sparked a huge debate in academic and religious circles

A rare first edition of one of the most influential and controversial books of all time is to go on display at Leeds City Museum next week.

“The Origin of Species” by naturalist Charles Darwin, which created a furore in academic and religious circles upon its release in 1859, is to go on show at the new museum off Millennium Square from Monday 3rd August.

The book is on loan from The Leeds Library until November to mark the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and 150 years since it was published.

“The Origin of Species” is credited with providing the basis for all modern theories on evolution, putting forward groundbreaking evidence that all species had evolved over time from common ancestors. The book also sparked huge controversy with religious orders, who denounced its belief that man may have been descended from apes rather than created as was written in the bible.

Darwin’s theory also introduced the term ‘natural selection’ to the scientific world, explaining how some animals had been rendered extinct while others had adapted and flourished over time through a basic process of survival of the fittest.

The book to go on display in the museum is one of only 1250 first editions ever printed having been acquired by The Leeds Library to be added into their scientific collection upon its release 150 years ago.

Alongside “The Origin of Species” on display will be another first edition of Darwin’s works, “The Zoology of The Voyage of HMS Beagle”, which are illustrated volumes edited by Darwin based on his five years spent aboard the survey ship HMS Beagle during a scientific expedition from 1832 to 1836. The animals and geological features he saw on the voyage, in particular around South America, helped reinforce his own ideas and beliefs and led to him spending the next 20 years honing his theory of evolution.

This work was published in five volumes between 1839 and 1843, and the first four volumes covering fossil mammalia, mammalia (the former term for mammals), birds and fish are also on loan from The Leeds Library.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:

“We are immensely pleased and proud to be able to put this amazing book on display in our new museum. It is no exaggeration to say Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution basically changed the way people looked at the world, and to have a first edition of such a groundbreaking book on show for everyone in Leeds to see for free is fantastic.”

The Leeds Library based on Commercial Street in the city centre is the oldest surviving subscription library of its type in the British Isles. Founded in 1768, it has an estimated stock over 140,000 books amongst its collections, which are particularly rich in travel, topography, biography, history and literature. For more information on how to become a member, visit the website at or call 0113 245 3071.

Leeds City Museum features four floors of exciting galleries and exhibitions and free family activities Tuesdays to Thursdays to enjoy. Entry to Leeds City Museum is free and is a full day out. For further information visit the website

A new exhibition on show at the museum is ‘A Game of Two Halves’ devoted to the history of the FA Cup and the story of Leeds United FC through the years. Admission is £2.20 for adults, £1.20 for Under-16s, NUS and Senior Citizens, while a Family Ticket (2 Adults 3 Children) will be priced at £5. Under-5s are free.

LEEDSCard, Breezecard, Leeds United season-ticket holders and Club Members can also benefit from a 20% Discount (this cannot be used in conjunction with the Family Ticket).


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email:

Domestic violence in Leeds casts shadow on summer holidays

For too many women, the summer holidays are a time of fear and the threat of violence from abusive partners.

Incidents of domestic violence are always high during the long school summer holiday period. Last August, in Leeds, there were over 800 incidences reported to the police.

This year, Safer Leeds, the city’s crime and disorder reduction partnership, is reminding women that they do not have to endure abusive behaviour.

Councillor Les Carter, executive board member responsible for community safety and chair of safer Leeds said:
“If you are suffering domestic violence we are saying that life does not have to be like this. We can and will help you and keep you and your children safe.”

The school summer holidays can be particularly stressful for women and children living with violent partners because the family are together for an extended period.

Domestic violence is not caused by alcohol, but it is a factor in half of the cases reported to the police. Domestic violence incidents are more likely to result in serious injuries when alcohol is involved.

Councillor Carter continued:
“Men who are violent when they drink will often try and avoid taking responsibility for the violence, but there is always a choice. If drinking makes you violent then choose not to drink.”

If you are concerned about domestic violence towards yourself or someone you know, you should contact the police on 0845 6060606 (asking for the domestic violence coordinator), Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, or 999 in an emergency.

• Safer Leeds is the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) dedicated to tackling drugs and crime in the city. It is a partnership organisation between a number of local agencies including Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police, NHS Leeds, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and West Yorkshire Police Authority.


For further information contact:
John Donegan
(0113) 247 4450 (mon-wed am) (0113) 395 1510 (wed pm-fri)