skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To H. G. Bronn   11 March [1862]1

Down | Bromley. | Kent S.E.

March 11th.

Dear & much honoured Sir.

I thank you for your very kind letter received this morning.2 I am surprised & pleased to hear that a new Edition of the Origin will be wanted— The last Edition in England contains a considerable number of small corrections & a few of importance; & I should like to make a few more corrections on clean sheets of the last English Edition which I will send you— I hope the Publisher will employ some one to compare the German Edition with this last English Editn. & make the additions in the new German Edition—3 I am, however at present extremely busy, & it would be a great convenience if I could wait 5 or 6 weeks before sending the English Edition, with the new corrections—4 If I do not hear I will assume that this will be time enough. I have not made much progress in my larger work for I have been tempted away by other subjects— I have however made some progress.—5

In about a months time I shall publish a little book on the Fertilisation of Orchids & on their Homologies,—of which I will send you a copy, as a mark of my sincere gratitude, for I do not suppose that the subject will interest you—6 I may add that if M Schweizerbart should like to publish (but this is very improbable) a translation I would try & procure stereotype plates of the several woodcuts at no expense beyond the casting7   But I doubt whether the Book would be worth translating though it contains I believe some new & curious facts—

I have lately been reading the French Copy (for I find the German very difficult) of your great work crowned by the French Academy—8 I have not finished it, but admire, & am profoundly interested as far as I have gone— I regret deeply that I did not know this book before I wrote the Origin—9

With sincere respect & gratitude I remain—Dear Sir. | Yours truly obliged. | Ch. Darwin.


The year is established by the reference to the publication of Orchids (see n. 6, below).
See letter from Heinrich Georg Bronn, [before 11 March 1862].
See letter from Heinrich Georg Bronn, [before 11 March 1862] and n. 4. CD refers to the third English edition of Origin, published in April 1861.
CD sent Bronn the corrections and additions for the new German edition of Origin at the end of April (see letter to H. G. Bronn, 25 April [1862]).
The reference is to CD’s ‘big book’ on species, from which Origin had been abstracted (see Correspondence vol. 7). CD made some progress on the work during the first half of 1861, but had since been working on Orchids and ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula (see Correspondence vol. 9, ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II), and this volume, ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)).
Orchids was published on 15 May 1862 (Freeman 1977, p. 112). CD included Bronn’s name on his presentation list for the volume (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix IV).
The Stuttgart publishing house E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, headed by Christian Friedrich Schweizerbart, published a translation of Orchids by Bronn later in the year (Bronn trans. 1862; see letter from H. G. Bronn, 27 March 1862, and letter from E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 7 June 1862).
In 1857, Bronn had won a prize offered by the Académie des Sciences of Paris to the author of the best essay discussing the question of how the distribution of fossils in geological deposits helped to provide an explanation for the appearance and extinction of species through time. A German translation of the essay was published the following year (Bronn 1858), but the original French version was not published until 1861 (Bronn 1861). There are lightly annotated copies of both the German and French versions of the essay in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 91).
In his essay (Bronn 1858), Bronn discussed the origin of species and argued that species were always created anew by some unknown creative force rather than originating from other species (see, for example, ibid., pp. 232–5).


Bronn, Heinrich Georg. 1861. Essai d’une réponse à la question de prix proposée en 1850 par l’Académie des Sciences pour le concours de 1853, et puis remise pour celui de 1856. Supplément aux Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Séances de l’Académie des Sciences 2: 377–918.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]

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.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

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.


Pleased that new German edition of Origin is wanted. Wishes to make corrections.

Suggests German translation of Orchids.

Comments on HGB’s book [Untersuchungen (1858)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Heinrich Georg Bronn
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 143: 153
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3470,” accessed on 28 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10