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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray1   15 October [1859]2

Wells Terrace, Ilkley, | Otley, Yorkshire.

Oct. 15th.

My dear Sir

I saw yesterday the very last of the proof-sheets. There will soon be clean sheets for Binder and I should be glad to have a copy of my troublesome progeny sent me by Post. Please to let Sir C. Lyell have the remaining clean sheets. But my object in writing is to ask you to inform me as soon as you know, what the trade-price of the volume will be, that I may regulate my presentation copies.3 Also I should be very glad to hear what amount (I fear very heavy) I shall have to pay of the excess in charge for corrections as that ought to regulate the number of copies I give away. I should much like to give away 70 beyond the 12 which you very liberally said you would give me. You offered to distribute my presentation copies (I of course paying postage and other expences) and as my health will probably keep me here till middle or end of November, this would be an immense convenience to me: otherwise I would not have given you this trouble.

But 29 copies I wish to send to almost every part of world to those who have assisted me, viz. Europe, N. America, India, Australia &c. &c. Can you effect this for me? Messrs Williams & Norgate have often sent for me various publications;4 but as I have not entered their shop or ordered a Book for last 18 months (owing to being employed in writing and not reading) I feel some scruple in asking them. Will you kindly answer me on this head and on other points included in this note.

I presume that you would not object to my sending abroad copies, as soon as ever any are ready, and I should be glad of this.

Therefore I should like to fix the number as soon as you can give me the desired information.5 I hope to give you no further trouble.

I heartily hope that my Book may be sufficiently successful that you may not repent of having undertaken it and I remain

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin.


The original letter has not been found. The copy is with the correspondence between CD and Robert Francis Cooke, John Murray’s cousin and business partner from 1848 to 1888. Murray may have passed CD’s letter on to Cooke owing to its financial queries (see n. 3, below).
The year is given by CD’s reference to the proof-sheets of Origin.
CD had arranged with Murray to buy additional author’s copies of Origin at the trade price. See letter to John Murray, 31 August [1859].
Williams and Norgate, booksellers at 14 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, specialised in foreign scientific books (Post Office London directory 1858). CD used them to distribute copies of Living Cirripedia (1854) to foreign naturalists (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to T. H. Huxley, 8 September [1854]).
For CD’s list of presentation copies, see Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix III.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Living Cirripedia (1854): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Balanidæ (or sessile cirripedes); the Verrucidæ, etc. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1854.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Discusses presentation copies [of the Origin].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
DAR R 143 (with R. F. Cooke correspondence)
Physical description
C 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2506,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

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