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Darwin Correspondence Project

To R. F. Cooke   23 October [1875]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Oct 23d

My dear Sir

Many thanks for all your information.— I am pleased at appearance of the book & hope it may sell fairly.

Please distribute fairly well to Reviews, so that it may be heard of.—2

I hope that you will very soon send the stereotyped Plates to Appletons3

I send list of 22 copies to be sent “from Author”— Do not write “from Author” on the 12 copies for self.—4

I have had 1 copy for self, & 2 in sheets for Translation.— = 25 copies

Is there any objection to your despatching copies before your Sale—5 if no objection please despatch them.—

I am particularly glad you stereotyped Var. under Dom.6

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch Darwin

I had a letter a few weeks ago from America from a Botanist complaining he cannot buy “Fert. of Orchids”, & I have since in vain endeavoured to get a second-hand copy in London.— This ought to be reprinted as a revised Edit.—7

N.B Please send me (with the 12 Climbing Plants) a copy of the last reprint (with some errata corrected) of Insectivorous Plants. As if a new Edit is ever required, I shall have all the same plague as I had about copy of Var. under Domestication.8


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from R. F. Cooke, 22 October 1875.
See letter from R. F. Cooke, 22 October 1875. Cooke had sent CD a copy of Climbing plants 2d ed. A brief notice of the book appeared in Gardeners’ Chronicle, 6 November 1875, p. 587; a long review was published in Nature, 25 November 1875, pp. 65–6.
CD’s US publisher, D. Appleton & Co., was routinely supplied with stereotype plates of CD’s books by John Murray at a small percentage over cost (see, for example, letter from R. F. Cooke, 24 May 1875 and n. 3).
For CD’s presentation list, see Appendix IV.
Like other leading publishers, John Murray held a sale dinner in November at which the principal booksellers were allowed to purchase stock on favourable terms (see J. Murray 1908–9, p. 540).
The production of stereotype plates allowed subsequent print runs to be made at lower cost, since the type did not need to be reset. Variation 2d ed. was the last edition to be published in CD’s lifetime; it was reprinted several times (see Freeman 1977).
The letter from the American botanist has not been found. Orchids 2d ed. was published in January 1877 (Publishers’ circular, 1 February 1877, p. 93).
Insectivorous plants was published on 2 July 1875; a second printing (second thousand) was issued with an errata slip, and the third printing was issued with a different errata slip, the first corrections having been incorporated into the text (Freeman 1977). All three printings were probably made in July 1875 or shortly after (letter from R. F. Cooke, 16 July 1875). The second printing of Variation had a number of textual changes, but no indication on the title page that it was revised (Freeman 1977).


Climbing plants 2d ed.: The movements and habits of climbing plants. 2d edition. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

Murray, John. 1908–9. Darwin and his publisher. Science Progress in the Twentieth Century 3: 537–42.

Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.

Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Sends list for complimentary copies and suggests various arrangements related to publication of Climbing plants.

Thinks a revised edition of Orchids is needed.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Francis Cooke; John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 324–5)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10216,” accessed on 2 March 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23