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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Richard Owen   [March? 1840]1

12, Upper Gower St.


I send you a proof title-page in place of the temporary title, now affixed to no. I of Fossil Mammalia.2 Please to observe that it is the general title to whole work,3 & matches the general one to Mammalia (which was given in last no. of birds).4 I hope you will approve of it. I have put your honorary titles only briefly in this general title, as they are more fully given in the title devoted to your department.5 I do not at all know, whether I have put your honorary titles properly. I only just put them down to fill up, what appeared to be the proper space in the page.— Will you be so kind as to return, after having made any alterations you choose, the proof to me.—

I hope soon to receive proofs of the remaining sheets.—6 I fear after all this publication of the number at the proper time is beyond hope.—7

Believe me | Very truly yours | Chas. Darwin

PS. Since I wrote this, Mr Stewart, the Printer8 has called & he tells me, you have not sent any list of plates or contents.9 I trust & hope for the uniformity of the work you will have the kindness to do so, even if they be brief ones.


The date is conjectured from the relationship between this letter and the letter to Richard Owen, 24 [February 1840] (Correspondence vol. 2), containing CD’s request that Owen submit his manuscript of the final number of Fossil Mammalia by the end of the first week of March. The reference in this letter to the ‘proper date’, which according to the schedule of publication of Zoology was originally 1 March 1840, and the absence of any reference to the postponement mentioned in the letter to Owen of 24 [February 1840], suggest that the letter may have been written earlier, on Sunday 16 February. However, the printer’s request for lists of plates and contents, which require page references and are therefore usually set up in type last, provides a strong reason for setting the date later than 24 February. The first Sunday after 24 February was 1 March. The final number of Fossil Mammalia was published in April 1840 (Freeman 1977).
Fossil Mammalia, by Richard Owen, contained four of the nineteen numbers that made up CD’s Zoology. The first number of Fossil Mammalia appeared in February 1838 with a temporary title page. In common with other parts of Zoology, the final number of Fossil Mammalia was issued with a title page (to which CD here refers), other preliminaries, and an index, so that the separate numbers might be bound into a single volume. For details of the complex publishing history of the parts and numbers of Zoology, see Freeman 1977, pp. 26–31.
The ‘whole work’ to which CD refers is the 1840 publication of all the separate numbers of Fossil Mammalia in a single volume as Part I of Zoology. The title page gives the general title, The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, with CD as editor, above the title and author of the part.
Mammalia, by George Robert Waterhouse, is Part II of Zoology; it was completed in 1839, before Part I. The title page of Mammalia, issued in September 1839 with the last number of the part, omitted the name of its author. A corrected title page was issued with the fourth number of Birds in November 1839. See Freeman 1977, p. 29.
On the published title page of Fossil Mammalia, Owen’s titles are given as ‘professor of anatomy and physiology to the Royal College of Surgeons in London, and corresponding member of the Institute of France, etc. etc.’ On a second title page, which does not mention Zoology, Owen’s professorship at the Royal College of Surgeons is repeated and followed by additional titles. CD’s proofs of these pages have not been found.
CD may refer to the remaining proofs of Owen’s text of the final number of Fossil Mammalia (see n. 1, above).
The original scheme, published in a prospectus of 1837, was to issue successive numbers of Zoology ‘on the first day of every alternate month’; the number preceding Owen’s final number appeared in January 1840 (Freeman 1977, pp. 27, 29). Therefore, the ‘proper time’ of publication of the last number of Fossil Mammalia was 1 March; it was not, however, published until 1 April (see Correspondence vol. 2, letter to Leonard Jenyns, [27 February 1840]).
Stewart and Murray were the printers of Zoology and Geology of the ‘Beagle’. Their offices were at 15 Old Bailey and Green Arbour Court, London (Post Office London directory).
The plates for Fossil Mammalia were the work of George Scharf (see Correspondence vol. 2, letter to Richard Owen, 24 [February 1840]). The last number of each part was issued with the part’s title page, half-title, preliminaries, index, and list of plates (see Freeman 1977, p. 27).


Sends a proof title page and asks RO to send a list of plates and contents [of Fossil mammalia] to the printer, Mr Stewart.

Letter details

Letter no.
Darwin, C. R.
Owen, Richard
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
Source of text
Christie’s, New York (29 October 1993)
Physical description
** 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 559F,” accessed on 8 December 2016,