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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   2 June 1879

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

June 2 | 1879

My dear Sir

I intend to publish a translation of a sketch of the life of Erasmus Darwin by Dr Krause; & I shall prefix to it a preliminary notice by myself, consisting of about 130 folio M.S. pages.1

I intend to have rather large type on thickish paper with cut gold edges—

There will be three wood-cuts & a photograph of Dr D.

The book therefore will be for its size rather expensive.2

I should guess that it wd be about 200 pages. I have endeavoured to make my notice interesting to the public, but whether I have succeeded is quite doubtful. Dr Krause’s part relates chiefly to my grandfather on evolution. I have written to Messrs Clowes to ask them whether they can oblige me by setting up the whole of my preliminary notice in slips.3 You can then if you please see a copy; & decide whether you will publish it on commission for me, or on our old terms of 23 profit.4

I am quite incapable of forming any judgement of the chance of the little book selling fairly well.

My dear Sir | yours very sincerely— | Ch. Darwin


CD had written a biographical sketch of his grandfather Erasmus Darwin to accompany an English translation of Ernst Krause’s essay (Krause 1879a).
In the event, the published book contained a portrait of Erasmus Darwin as the frontispiece and two woodcuts, one of Elston Hall, where Erasmus was born, and one of Breadsall Priory, where he died (Erasmus Darwin, pp. 3, 125); it was sold for 7s. 6d. (see letter from R. F. Cooke, 25 October 1879).
The letter to William Clowes & Sons, printers to John Murray, has not been found.
Murray usually published CD’s books at his own expense and paid CD a percentage of the profits on publication (an advance against royalties).


Erasmus Darwin. By Ernst Krause. Translated from the German by W. S. Dallas, with a preliminary notice by Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1879.

Krause, Ernst. 1879a. Erasmus Darwin, der Großvater und Vorkämpfer Charles Darwin’s: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Descendenz-Theorie. Kosmos 4 (1878–9): 397–424.


Intends to publish a translation of Ernst Krause’s essay on Dr Erasmus Darwin, with a prefatory notice by himself. Asks JM to decide whether to publish it on commission or on usual two-thirds profit terms. CD incapable of judging chance of its selling.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 356–7)
Physical description
LS(A) 3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12078,” accessed on 4 June 2023,