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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Murray   1 April 1865

50, Albemarle St. | W.

April 1st. /65

My Dear Sir

I answer without delay your obliging note of yesterday—1

I have no doubt your new work on Domestic Animals & Plants will be one of great value & interest & I shall be very proud to be the publisher—of it as of your “Origin”—2 I do not think you could select a better size than it—& it is of some consequence that your new work shd range with the former—3

I am quite well satisfied that Mr Sowerby Mr Wells & Mr Fitch shd each—in his own department make the Drawings on wood of wch you stand in need—4 I shd be sorry to stint you in number & beg you to put in hand what you think needful, only instructing the several artists to send me beforehand an estimate of their charge   I wd urge that all the subjects be so reduced as to come well within the dimensions of the page of your Origin of Species—leaving a fair margin5

I fear I have parted with the cuts of Dixons book6   I was not pleased with him & gladly washed my hands of it—but the Birds can be re-engraved.

I am going over to France for 3 weeks—& in my absence wd ask you to correspond with my Cousin & partner Mr Robert Cooke who will give you the latest intelligence of the state of the Editions of Origin & Orchids—7

Meanwhile if you are anxious to put the cuts in hand—I see no objection— When I return I will look after them & I will also ask you to let me see any portion of your MS wch may be ready.

I was sorry to hear from Sir Ch Lyell a poor account of your health— but hope you are better again

I am | My Dear Sir | Your faithful & obliged servt | John Murray

P S. As I have been prepared from the first for this work & look upon it as the Complement of the “Origin of S.”8 I propose—unless you object to announce it in my Quarterly List of New Works—wch will appear next week9   This will give timely notice to those who possess the Origin—but I shd not think of publishing before November. I shall therefore put the Title which you have sent at once in our List, unless Mr Cooke hears to the contrary.

Chas Darwin Esq.

CD annotations

9.5 I shall … contrary. 9.6] double scored red crayon


The firm of John Murray published Variation in 1868; they had first published Origin in 1859.
Though both works were published in octavo, the height of Origin was 198 mm, while Variation was 220 mm (see Freeman 1977, pp. 84, 124). See also letter to John Murray, 31 March [1865].
See n. 3, above.
No correspondence with Robert Francis Cooke on the sales of Origin and Orchids has been found; however, the following is written at the bottom of the letter: ‘on hand | 150 Origin of Species | 580 Orchids’. It is probable that these figures were added by Cooke, and are the answers to CD’s enquiry (see letter to John Murray, 31 March [1865]). The 150 copies of Origin remained from a printing of 2000 copies of the third edition, published in April 1861, and the 580 copies of Orchids, published on 15 May 1862, remained from a printing of 1500 (see Freeman 1977, pp. 78, 112, and Correspondence vol. 10, letter to John Murray, 9 April [1862]).
CD had announced in the introduction to Origin, p. 2, that he hoped to follow that work by ‘publishing in detail all the facts, with references’ on which his conclusions had been founded. CD had consulted Murray about his plan to publish a more extensive work on species on several occasions (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to T. H. Huxley, 16 December [1859], and letter to John Murray, 22 December [1859], and Correspondence vol. 9, letters to John Murray, 3 March [1861] and 30 April [1861]). Variation included an expanded study of the subject of the first chapter of Origin.


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

Dixon, Edmund Saul. 1851. The dovecote and the aviary: being sketches of the natural history of pigeons and other domestic birds in a captive state, with hints for their management. London: John Murray.

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.

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.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Will be proud to publish CD’s new work on domestic animals [Variation]. Will announce it as the complement of the Origin. Advises on woodcuts; does not wish to limit number; agrees to CD’s suggestions for artists.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Murray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Albemarle St, 50
Source of text
DAR 171: 332
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3493,” accessed on 22 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13