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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [8–11 April 1859]1

Lyell called on Boott2 to tell him how strongly (so I understand Boott) he had been urging Murray to undertake your book. I have not the smallest doubt of Lyell’s perfect good faith & kindness in the matter, but from what Boott said I thought Lyell had exceeded so much my estimate of the public’s interest in such works that I could not help saying so, to Boott. How glad I shall be if it proves the contrary, for Sciences sake.

As to my Essay, if Reeve does not print it separately, only 150 copies will be printed & 75 sold as of the Flora Tasmaniæ, if he does, I shall buy 100 for distribution, & the sale of the remainder will, judging from the New Zealand Essay,—be 2 copies!3 In point of sale or awakening interest our books cannot interfere.—the number who will read both will be inconceivably small.

I think there are plenty of examples of best marked vars on verges of range.

Drimys Winteri is another example. Berberis vulgaris in India & Siberia & indeed most of the Indian European species, besides having states identical with European, run into vars more different from the type there than in Europe. E.G. Hedera Helix.—Saxifraga Hirculus— In fact the phenomenon is so common I did not think it necessary to quote any example but Rhododendron & that only as conspicuous illustration.4

CD annotations

crossed pencil
Top of first page: ‘LTR 19’pencil; ‘3’5 brown crayon, circled brown crayon


Dated by the relationship to the preceding letter. Hooker’s remarks about species that vary on the edge of their geographical range are clearly a response to CD’s question in the preceding letter.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 2 April [1859]. Francis Boott, a close friend of Hooker’s, was vice-president and treasurer of the Linnean Society. The meeting with Charles Lyell may have concerned CD’s decision not to publish his abstract in the Journal of the society.
The publishing company run by Lovell Augustus Reeve had, in 1844, undertaken to publish Hooker’s Botany of the Antarctic voyage in three parts (Hooker 1844–7, 1853–5, and 1855–60). Reeve agreed to publish the work ‘on condition that he receive all the material of drawings, plates, and text without further payment, and that not one copy should be given away to any person likely to buy it’ (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 171). Reeve did publish a separate reprint of Hooker’s introductory essay to the Flora of Tasmania (Hooker 1859).
The case of a well-marked variety of Rhododendron occurring at the edge of the species’ geographical range is given in Hooker 1859, p. v.
CD’s portfolio number 3 contained notes on variation and varieties.


Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1844–7. Flora Antarctica. 1 vol. and 1 vol. of plates. Pt 1 of The botany of the Antarctic voyage of HM discovery ships Erebus and Terror in the years 1839–1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross. London: Reeve Brothers.


Lyell has been strongly urging John Murray to publish CD’s book [Origin]. JDH feels Lyell overestimates the public interest in such works.

Gives examples of plants showing most marked varieties on the edge of their range.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 100: 127
Physical description
inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2444,” accessed on 22 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7