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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   4 September 1879

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

Sep 4. 1879

My dear Mr Murray,

I am sorry to have caused trouble about the £1–16 by my blunder.1

As I said I am not sanguine about the sale of the little book, but success apparently depends largely on chance; and it appears to me fair that if above 1500 copies should be sold that I should receive 23 profits as on former occasions.2 I am bound to look after Dr Krause’s3 interest (as well as my own) and unless you feel inclined to agree to my proposal, I should prefer publishing on commission, or taking the proof sheets to Messrs Macmillan4 to see if they will give me larger profits. Do you offer books published on commission at your sale to the booksellers, which I suppose is an advantage? I omitted to state that I shall have pay Mr Dallas for translating, and he has translated a good deal more of Krause’s MS than appears to me worth publishing.5

A picture of Dr Darwin has been photographed by the Autotype Co, & there only remains to strike off copies, and to ascertain the price per thousand.6

Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


For CD’s original proposal and reservations about the sale of Erasmus Darwin, see the letter to John Murray, 2 June 1879.
Ernst Krause was co-author of Erasmus Darwin.
Macmillan & Co. was a leading publishing firm in Britain (ODNB s.v. Macmillan family).
William Sweetland Dallas. On CD’s decision to cut portions of Krause’s essay, see the letter to Ernst Krause, 13 August 1879.
On the portrait used for the frontispiece of Erasmus Darwin, see the letter from V. H. Darwin, 4 April 1879, n. 3. On the Autotype Company of London, see the letter to Ernst Krause, 14 March 1879, n. 6.


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


Though not sanguine about sale [of Erasmus Darwin] it seems fair that if over 1500 copies are sold he should receive two-thirds profit. If JM does not agree, he would prefer publishing on commission or asking Macmillan if they will give him larger profits.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 358–9)
Physical description
LS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12218,” accessed on 12 September 2023,