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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John William Parker1   5 May [1852]

Down Farnborough Kent

May 5t h.


As an author of some Scientific works, I beg to express strongly my opinion, that, both for the advantage of Authors & the public, Booksellers like other dealers ought to settle, each for himself, the Retail price.2

Sir | Your obedt. sert. | Charles Darwin


Bookseller and publisher at 445 West Strand, London (DNB).
On 30 April 1852, Parker had written to ‘Authors, and Others connected with Literary Property’ concerning a dispute between the Booksellers’ Association and certain independent retailers over the fixing of minimum retail prices for books (Stationers’ Company Records Pt XI (III)): Question. If a retail Bookseller of ascertained credit and respectability applies to the Publisher to purchase any Book in which you may be directly or indirectly interested, on the terms at which those Books are offered to the Trade at large, but with the avowed intention of retailing his purchases at a smaller profit than that provided for between the wholesale rate and the selling price of single copies,— Do you consider the intention to sell at a low rate of profit, a good and sufficient reason why the Publisher should refuse to sell the Books, which such retailer is ready to purchase and to keep in stock at his own risk? The dispute over the fixing of retail prices by publishers and the Booksellers’ Association was referred to the lord chief justice and others. On 19 May 1852, Lord John Campbell concluded that the agreement providing for a minimum retail price seemed ‘prima facie to be indefensible, and contrary to the freedom which ought to prevail in commercial transactions’ (Gentleman’s Magazine n.s. 37 (1852): 592).


DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.


As an author of some scientific works CD is of the opinion that each bookseller should settle, each for himself, the retail price.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John William Parker
Sent from
Source of text
Stationers’ Company (Records Pt XI (III) J. W. Parker: autograph letters from authors (TSC/1/F/07/22))
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1480A,” accessed on 19 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5