A SINGLE handwritten page from Charles Darwin’s On The Origin Of Species has been sold for £490,000 — more than £4,700 per word.

Auctioned by the estate of a descendant of the 19th century naturalist, it shattered the guide price of £120,000 to £180,000.

Darwin’s 1859 work — explaining his theory of evolution — was recently voted the most influential academic book ever written. The page contains 104 words, plus corrections, and Darwin concludes ‘there is no fundamental difference between Species & Varieties’.

However, he made extensive stylistic changes before publication which means the printed text differs in detail to the manuscript, which he wrote between July 1858 and April 1859.

The page — the only substantial part of Chapter 8 to survive — was auctioned by Sotheby’s by order of the executors of the late Mrs A P Keynes, a descendent of Darwin’s daughter’s niece. In 2016, a single page from Chapter 7 was sold by Sotheby’s for £175,000.