skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Rudolf Suchsland   16 March 1866


16th March 1866.


Excuse the liberty I take in addressing you, without having the honour of your personal acquaintance. My object in writing to you is to ask your permission in the name of my father, Mr. F. E. Suchsland, publishing bookseller & head of the firm: Joh. Chr. Hermann’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung at Francfort on the Maine,1 to publish a German translation of your works, especially of the renowned book: “On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of the favoured races in the struggle for life”.

It is true that one German translation by Professor Bronn of Heidelberg already exists; but as it is not generally considered a successful reproduction, I think, annother and more liberal translation has not only become a necessity for Germany considering the great importance and propagation of your theory there, but is also in your own interest.2

My father has already published two books by Dr. Rolle, which he took the liberty of sending to you viz: “Charles Darwin’s Lehre von der Entstehung der Arten im Pflanzen- & Thierreich in ihrer Anwendung auf die Schöpfungsgeschichte dargestellt & erläutert von Dr. Fr. Rolle.” & “Der Mensch, seine Abstammung & Gesittung im Lichte der Darwinschen Lehre von der Artentstehung & auf Grundlage der neueren geologischen Entdeckungen dargestellt von Dr. Fr. Rolle.”3

These two books have contributed greatly to the propagation of your theory in Germany.4 The first of them has been translated into the Russian language, while the second has been prohibited by the Russian Government.5

My father would, of course, try to secure the services of an eminent man of science for the purpose of translating your works & would also interest Dr. Rolle in the undertaking.6 But before doing so, he wishes to be sure of your consent & to know your conditions.

I deem it necessary to remark, that, at present, my father could not guarantee an immediate fixed payment seeing that the cost of translating and publishing would amount to no inconsiderable sum.

I shall feel much obliged by an early answer & remain | yours | most respectfully | R. Suchsland | 25. Belle Vue street | Swansea.

Charles Darwin Esq. | Down | South Kent.


Friedrich Emil Suchsland was owner and head of Johann Christian Hermann’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung in Frankfurt (Börsenblatt für den deutschen Buchhandel 3 (1836): 830 and 36 (1869): 434).
Two editions of Heinrich Georg Bronn’s translation of Origin had been published (Bronn trans. 1860 and Bronn trans. 1863); they included an afterword in which Bronn commented on CD’s transmutation theory (see also Montgomery 1988, p. 91). In his letter to the Athenæum of 18 April [1863], CD mentioned Bronn as an opponent of his transmutation theory (Correspondence vol. 11). For a contemporary account of German opinion of CD’s theory, see the letter from Ernst Haeckel, 28 January 1866 and n. 5.
In 1862, CD had been sent a copy of Friedrich Rolle’s Ch. Darwin’s Lehre (Rolle 1863; see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Friedrich Rolle, 17 October [1862]); CD commented on the work in his letter to Friedrich Rolle, 30 January [1863] (Correspondence vol. 11). CD’s annotated copies of the four parts of Rolle 1863 are in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. CD received the five parts of Rolle’s Der Mensch (Rolle 1866) in 1865 and 1866 (see letter from Friedrich Rolle, 28 January 1866 and n. 2). CD’s lightly annotated copy of Rolle 1866 is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Following the publication of Rolle 1863, Rolle gave an account of the response to CD’s transmutation theory in Germany and informed CD of his efforts to propagate CD’s theory in his letter to CD of 26 January 1863 (Correspondence vol. 11).
Ch. Darwin’s Lehre (Rolle 1863) was published in two Russian translations (Vladimirskii trans. 1864 and Usov trans. 1865). No Russian edition of Der Mensch (Rolle 1866) has been found; for an account of Russian censorship in the nineteenth century, see Choldin 1985. For more on the controversies associated with the reception of CD’s transmutation theory in Russia, see Rogers 1988.
For details of works by Rolle published by Johann Christian Hermann’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, see Martin and Uschmann 1969, pp. 132–6. On the relationship between Rolle and Friedrich Emil Suchsland, see Martin and Uschmann 1969, pp. 30–1.


Athenæum. 1844. A few words by way of comment on Miss Martineau’s statement. No. 896 (28 December): 1198–9.

Choldin, Marianna Tax. 1985. A fence around the empire: Russian censorship of western ideas under the tsars. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

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

Montgomery, William M. 1988. Germany. In The comparative reception of Darwinism, with a new preface, edited by Thomas F. Glick. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

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.

Rogers, James Allen. 1988. Russia: social sciences. In The comparative reception of Darwinism, edited by Thomas F. Glick. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Rolle, Friedrich. 1863. Chs. Darwin’s Lehre von der Entstehung der Arten im Pflanzen- und Thierreich in ihrer Anwendung auf die Schöpfungsgeschichte. Frankfurt: J. C. Hermann.

Rolle, Friedrich. 1866. Der Mensch, seine Abstammung und Gesittung, im Lichte der Darwin’schen Lehre von der Art-Entstehung und auf Grundlage der neuern geologischen Entdeckungen dargestellt. Frankfurt: J. C. Hermann.

Usov, Sergei A. trans. 1865. Uchenie Darvina O proiskhozhdenii vidov obsheponiatno izlozhennoe Fridrikhom Rolle. [Translation of Rolle 1863.] Moscow: A. I. Glazunov.

Vladimirskii, M. trans. 1864. Karla Darvina uchenie o proiskhozhdenie vidov v karstve rastenii i zhivotnykh, primenennoe k istorii mirotvoreniya izlozheno i obyasneno Fridrikhom Rolle. [Translation of Rolle 1863.] With a supplementary biography of Darwin compiled by S. Seneman. St Petersburg: M. O. Vol’fa.


Asks, on behalf of his father, whether he might publish a new German translation of the Origin, believing Bronn’s to be inadequate.

Letter details

Letter no.
Georg Rudolf Emil (Rudolf) Suchsland
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 271
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5035,” accessed on 15 August 2020,

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