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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   24 November [1859]

⇒ Ilkley Wells House | Otley, Yorkshire

Nov. 24

My dear Sir

I am astounded at your news of sale.1 I cannot cut up my one copy, for I am incessantly receiving letters with references. Will you send me another copy if possible in sheets, & I will immediately send off half a dozen sheets to Mess rs Clowes, after I have looked them over. Sir C. Lyell & others suggest expansion in many places, but I cannot possibly without books or M.S do this. I have heard of only one blunder & that not my fault.—2

I shd. think the best way would be to let me try, & correct & if I am too slow the Printers must print off a Verbatim copy.

I am infinitely obliged about French Edition.3

About your “note of hand” please do whatever is usual: you can either deduct for my presentation copies (& I thank you sincerely for all the trouble, which you have taken) or I will pay you at once.4

I will begin this evening looking over my copy for corrections. In Haste with hearty thanks.

I do rejoice that you will not have cause to repent of publishing; at one time I was extremely fearful & annoyed at thought that you might repent

In Haste. Yours sincerely & obliged | C. Darwin

Perhaps you had better tell me how soon you want new Edition I am up to very little work.—


Murray’s letter has not been found, but see the letter to T. H. Huxley, 24 [November 1859] and n. 1. In a letter written at Shrewsbury late in November 1859, Emma Darwin told William Erasmus Darwin (DAR 210.6): ‘It is a wonderful thing the whole edition selling off at once & Mudie taking 500 copies. Your father says he shall never think small beer of himself again & that candidly he does think it very well written.’ Charles Edward Mudie was the proprietor of ‘Mudie’s select library’, a subscription lending library that began in London in 1842 and came to have offices in Manchester and Birmingham, and to number over 25,000 subscribers (DNB). According to contemporary advertisements in Athenæum, Mudie’s library also supplied book societies and village libraries, and consisted ‘chiefly of works of permanent interest and value’. Origin is first listed among its stock in Athenæum, 3 December 1859, p. 724.
CD presumably refers to his reference in Origin to whale fossils being found in Secondary formations. See letter to Charles Lyell, 20 September [1859], and preceding letter.
See letter to John Murray, 15 October [1859], in which CD stated his intention to buy 70 copies of Origin for presentation. For CD’s list of presentation copies, which totalled 94, 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–.

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.

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.


CD is astonished at sale of Origin [to booksellers].

Arranges to start new edition immediately. Cannot change much [while at Ilkley Wells], nor work rapidly because of health. Relieved that JM has no cause to repent of publishing Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.70–71)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2549,” accessed on 19 July 2024,

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