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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Murray   7 May 1861

May 7—1861

My Dear Sir

I enclose my amended note of hand for £372 for the 3rd edition of your work on Species1

This, as far as I can judge, is the amount of 23 d profit arising from 2000 copies.2 There are always contingencies arising—such as advertising expences, which make it difficult to fix beforehand the precise profits on any work.3 Thus in the first Edition—the sum I gave you turned out far more than 23 d or at least my share eventually fell below 13 considerably.4

Moreover it must be borne in mind that it is not a mere rule of 3 sum to calculate profits of a book— Thus—the 3rd. Edn. of 2000 Copies cost only £70. less than 3000 of the 3rd. edition. Moreover this last is increased by two sheets beyond the second edition 23 shts instead of 21.

I enter into these details to prevent any misunderstanding and hope I have been successful.

If we print any more editions I would prefer deferring the settlement untill the whole is disposed of when I could arrange the amount of 23ds. profit to the uttermost farthing.5

I remain | Dear Sir | Yrs. Very faithfully | (signed) John Murray

C. Darwin Esq


See letters to John Murray, 30 April [1861] and 3 May [1861].
According to the terms CD and Murray agreed upon for the publication of Origin, CD was to receive ‘23 ds of the net proceeds of the edition—payable by note of hand at six months from the day of publication’ (Correspondence vol. 7, letter from John Murray, 1 April 1859).
According to Murray’s ledgers, Murray spent £45 on advertising the first edition of Origin, £60 4s. for the second, and £29 3s. 6d. for the third (see Peckham ed. 1959, pp. 775–6).
CD received £180 as his share of the profits for the first edition; Murray recorded having made £57 4s. 2d. ‘balance profit’ (Peckham ed. 1959, p. 775).
The fourth edition of Origin was published in December 1866; CD received his share of the profits in September 1867 after all copies of the edition were sold (Peckham ed. 1959, pp. 776–7).


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.


Encloses amended note of £372 for third edition of Origin. Provides details of the calculation of profits.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Murray
Charles Robert Darwin
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 41913 pp. 107–8)
Physical description
CC 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3141A,” accessed on 4 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9