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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Murray   21 February [1866]1

50A. Albemarle St. | W.

Feby 21

My Dear Sir

I have the pleasure to inform you that the Third Edition of your Origin of Species, printed 1861 is now exhausted.2 Will it be agreable to you that I send to press a new Edition, & if so have you any changes to make?—

The demand for the work after 3 Editions is necessarily slow & limited— I wd therefore propose to print no more than 1250 copies   I propose as before to give you 23 d of the profits of the Edition, but I hope that instead of paying you on the publication of the work in consideration of the altered circumstances, you will kindly wait until the sale shall have in part at least, repaid the outlay of paper, printing &c3

When you do me the favor to answer this, I wd fain hear about your health, wch I sincerely hope has improved since you last did me the favor to write.4

I remain My Dear Sir | Your faithful servant | John Murray

Charles Darwin Esqr


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to John Murray, 22 February [1866].
The print run of the third edition of Origin was 2000 copies (Peckham ed. 1959, p. 776). It was published in April 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9).
The print run of the fourth edition of Origin was 1500 copies. The production cost of the book exceeded the sum paid to the author, which was slightly less than two-thirds of the profit. See Peckham ed. 1959, p. 776.
In his most recent known letter to Murray, CD had written, ‘I am now better but know not in the least whether I shall keep well enough to work’, having reported his recent loss of five or six weeks owing to illness (Correspondence vol. 13, letter to John Murray, 2 June [1865]).


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.


Informs CD third edition of Origin is exhausted. Proposes a new edition. Has CD any changes? Since demand is slowing up, proposes printing only 1250 copies and deferring payment of CD’s share until sales have repaid manufacturing costs.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Murray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Albemarle St, 50a
Source of text
DAR 171: 333
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5014,” accessed on 24 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14