Photography and Publishing Strategies
Expression of Emotions contains mores illustrations than any of Darwin’s other books. It is Darwin’s only work to feature photographs or include pictures of people. It was, in fact, one of the first scientific books with photographs, using a new printing process called ‘heliotype’. Darwin’s editor Murray warned that this “would poke a terrible hole in the profits”.
The pet-owning, zoo-visiting Victorian public had developed a taste for animals and an interest in their expressions. Darwin employed popular artists in illustrating the book, trying to conjoin his scientific interests with the demands of a new readership.
The correspondence shows us how Darwin collected images of expression from a wide range of sources, befriended photographers and used published works such as those by the French scientist Duchenne to build a corpus of images of humans and animals.
Expression became one of Darwin’s most commercially successful works, selling nine thousand copies in England in the first four months. Letters from Murray show the growing tension and excitement surrounding the launch of the book – with Darwin’s publisher even wondering if they should involve the police!