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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Asa Gray   21 December [1859]

Down Bromley Kent

Dec. 21

My dear Gray

I have just received your most kind, long & valuable letter.—1 I will write again in a few days, for I am at present unwell & much pressed with business.— To day’s note is merely personal. I shd. for several reasons be very glad of an American Edition;2 I have made up my mind to be well abused; but I think it of importance that my notions shd. be read by intelligent men, accustomed to scientific argument though not naturalists. It may seem absurd but I think such men will drag after them those naturalists, who have too firmly fixed in their heads that a species is an entity.— The 1st Edit of 1250 copies was sold on first day, & now my Publisher is printing off as rapidly as possible 3000 more copies.— I mention this solely because it renders probable a remunerative sale in America.— I shd. be infinitely obliged if you could aid an American Reprint; & could make, for my sake & Publisher’s, any arrangement for any profit.— The new Edit. is only Reprint; yet I have made a few important corrections. I will have the clean sheets sent over in a few days of as many sheets as are printed off & the remainder afterwards, & you can do anything you like.— If nothing there is no harm done. I shd be glad for the new Edit to be reprinted, & not the old.—3

In great haste & with hearty thanks. | Yours’ very sincerely | C. Darwin

I will write soon again


Gray’s letter has not been found, but see letter from J. D. Hooker, [20 December 1859]. CD sent Gray a copy of Origin in November 1859 (letter to Asa Gray, 11 November [1859]).
Given that the United States did not recognise foreign copyright, Gray had offered to negotiate on CD’s behalf with a Boston publisher, Ticknor and Fields, for an authorised American edition of Origin (see letter to John Murray, 22 December [1859]. He soon learned, however, that two New York publishing firms were already planning to publish the work, one of which, D. Appleton and Company, did so in mid-January 1860. See Dupree 1959, pp. 270–2, and Freeman 1977, p. 85.
The Appleton edition of Origin was taken from the uncorrected first English edition (Freeman 1977, p. 83).


Dupree, Anderson Hunter. 1959. Asa Gray, 1810–1888. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

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.


Would welcome American edition of Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Asa Gray
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Harvard University (16)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2592,” accessed on 14 April 2024,

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