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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   [3 November 1859]1

Wells Terrace, Ilkley, Otley


My dear Sir

I have received your kind note & the copy: I am infinitely pleased & proud at the appearance of my child.—2 I quite agree to all you propose about price. But you are really too generous about the to me scandalously heavy corrections. Are you not acting unfairly towards yourself? Would it not be better to at least share the £72’s 80? 3 I shall be fully satisfied; for I had no business to send, though quite unintentionally & unexpectedly, such badly composed M.S. to the printers.

Thank you for your kind offer to distribute the copies to my friends & assisters as soon as possible.— Do not trouble yourself much about the foreigners, as Messrs Williams & Norgate have most kindly offered to do their best, & they are accustomed to send to all parts of world.

I will pay for my copies, whenever you like.4

I am so glad that you were so good as to undertake the publication of my Book.—

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

P.S. | Please do not forget to let me hear about 2 days before the copies are distributed.

I do not know when I shall leave this place; certainly not for several weeks: Whenever I be in London: I will call on you


Dated by the relationship to the letter from John Murray, 2 November 1859.
This sum had been cited by Murray as the amount owed for corrections, to be paid to William Clowes, the printer of Origin (see letter from John Murray, 2 November 1859). Murray’s accounts do not, however, list any sum paid by CD for his corrections (Peckham ed. 1959, p. 775).
Murray’s accounts indicate that CD was given 12 author’s copies and that 41 were distributed as review copies (Peckham ed. 1959, p. 775). CD planned to send out 70 copies of Origin beyond the 12 he was given, 29 of which were to be sent to foreign naturalists (see letter to John Murray, 15 October [1859]); his presentation list comprised 94 copies (Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix III). CD’s Account books (Down House MSS) do not record any payment to Murray during 1859 that might relate to presentation copies. The first entry for a payment of £42 18s. 8d. made to ‘Murray for copies of Origin’ is dated 12 October 1860. It is not clear whether this was payment for extra copies of the first edition or the second or for both.


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

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.


Infinitely pleased and proud of the appearance of his "child" [Origin, 1st ed.]. Thinks JM has been overgenerous in paying for his corrections. Offers to divide cost and regrets sending such badly composed copy.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 f.49)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2514,” accessed on 15 July 2024,

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