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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   2 May [1862]

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

May 2d

My dear Sir

I returned this morning to Printers last page of Index.1 This last page is 365 so that the Book will not be quite so big as we feared. I hope you will reconsider the price: 10s seems to me high.2 About lettering the back of volume; I can think only of “Fertilisation of Orchids: Darwin,”; but this, I fear is too long. Please let me hear on this head. I have got rather to think that Red Cloth would look too gaudy for a grave volume.—3

You will, of course, settle what Reviews to send to; but I may mention that Editor of London Review would be inclined to be favourable.—4 Also the Editors of old “Cottage Gardener”, now called “Journal of Horticulture” are very civil to me,5 & I have contributed little articles for them; so that if the keep any Reviewers, they would wish to review me favourably, & this Journal has very large circulation amongst men who cultivate Orchids.—

Lastly, will you be so very kind as to distribute by Post & otherwise the long enclosed list (which please keep safely):6 I fear the copies for Foreigners will cause you some trouble; but I beg you kindly to do the best for me.— I hope you will give me a few copies, as heretofore.— God knows whether my little book will succeed at all, but I am frightened when I think what a large Edition is published.—7

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


CD refers to the page-proofs of Orchids, and to the London printing firm of William Clowes & Sons.
Orchids was published in May 1862 at the price of 9s. (Publishers’ Circular 25 (1862): 247).
The lettering on the spine of Orchids reads: ‘Fertilization | OF | Orchids | Darwin.’ The volume was published with a plum-coloured cloth binding (see Freeman 1977, p. 112).
A favourable review of Origin had been published in the London Review and Weekly Journal of Politics, Literature, Art and Society 1 (1860): 11–12, 32–3, 58–9 (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to J. D. Hooker, 29 July [1860]). The journal began publication in July 1860, and was edited for the first six months by Charles Mackay (Men of the time); his successor has not been identified. CD subscribed to the journal from May 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9, letters to J. D. Hooker, 18 [May 1861] and 24–5 May [1861]). See also letter from J. D. Hooker, [19 January 1862].
The Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener and Country Gentleman, which changed its name from The Cottage Gardener, Country Gentleman’s Companion, and Poultry Chronicle in 1861, was edited by George William Johnson and Robert Hogg.
CD refers to his presentation list for Orchids (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix IV).
The first edition of Orchids had a print-run of 1500 copies (see letter to John Murray, 9 April [1862]).


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

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.


Has returned last page of index [of Orchids]. Hopes JM will reconsider price – 10s seems high. Suggests two reviewers likely to be favourable. Sends list for presentation copies.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff. 118–119)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3531,” accessed on 1 December 2021,

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