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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   18 July 1866


July 18, 1866

Dear Darwin

I received the enclosed to-day.1 The Appleton’s have the sheets up to p. 288, (to sign n.)2 I have just collated the sheets O, Q, R, (P, has not come), and it is perfectly clear that the Appletons cannot alter their plates so as really to reproduce your revised work.3

I have written to them that the collation I have made shows me that you could not do otherwise than object decidedly, as you did in your letter, to the course they propose to pursue;4—that I am bound to respect your expressed wishes and that I must ask them to return to me the sheets I finished. In consequence there will be no reprint here at present. For no publisher would venture to spite the Appletons by taking it up, without buying up their worthless stereotype plates.

I wish you would arrange to have your publisher supply the U.S. market at a lowish rate, as, at present, the Engl. ed. could well compete with any American one, should such be attempted.5

If the Appleton’s were not in the way, Messrs Ticknor & Fields would reprint the book,6 and pay the author 10 pr cent on retail price of the book.—in the hope of being favored with early sheets of the vol. on Variation & Domestication on the same terms.7

But Dog-in-the-Manger prevents.8

Our July is fearfully hot, so far— I am to be off next week, for a short holiday.

Ever Yours sincerely | A. Gray


Statement of Sales of “Darwin’s Origin of Species”9

to 1st Feby 1866 by D. APPLETON & CO., for account of Asa Gray On hand last account, 197 On hand this date, 290 Printed since, 250 Given away,

Sold to date, 157

— —

447 447 Sold 157 Copies. $2 Rate 5% $ 15.70

Jany 1/65. Copyrights due 69.91



CD annotations

1.1 I received … finished. 2.4] crossed blue crayon [Updated November 2019]
6.1 Our … holiday.] crossed blue crayon [Updated November 2019]


Gray may have enclosed the statement of sales for the US edition of Origin printed here. CD and Gray had recently discussed the sale of the book, with Gray noting that he had received ‘nothing from Appleton’s for years’ (see letter from Asa Gray, 7 May 1866 and n. 3, and n. 8, below).
Gray was forwarding proof-sheets of the fourth edition of Origin to the publisher D. Appleton and Company for a proposed new American edition of the work. See letter from Asa Gray, 3 July 1866 and n. 5. ‘Sign n.’: i.e., signature N. A signature is a letter or number placed at the foot of a page to indicate the sequence of sheets, or the pages formed by each sheet when folded and cut (Chambers).
On the use of solid plates, or stereotyping, in the production of the American edition of Origin, see the letter to Asa Gray, 16 April [1866] and n. 11.
CD’s letter and Appleton’s proposal have not been found; see letter from Asa Gray, 3 July 1866.
CD forwarded Gray’s letter to his publisher, John Murray (see letter to John Murray, 16 October [1866], and letter from John Murray, 18 October [1866]).
Gray had previously approached the Boston firm of Ticknor & Fields about publishing the first American edition, but they withdrew on learning that D. Appleton & Co. had already stereotyped and printed the book for sale in the United States (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter from Asa Gray, 23 January 1860 and n. 2, and Appendix IV).
Variation was published in the United States in 1868 by Orange Judd & Company of New York, with a preface by Gray (Freeman 1977, p. 124).
The statement of sales for the American edition of Origin was originally enclosed in a letter to Gray from D. Appleton & Co. Other statements, giving the amounts credited to Gray’s or CD’s account, for 1867 to 1870, 1872, and 1874 to 1881, are in DAR 159; no statements for the years before 1866 have been found. For more information on the sale of the American edition of Origin, see the letter from Asa Gray, 7 May 1866 and n. 3.


Chambers: The Chambers dictionary. Edinburgh: Chambers Harrap Publishers. 1998.

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.

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.


Appleton’s cannot alter their plates so as to reproduce revised work [Origin, 4th ed.]. Has made it clear that CD could not do otherwise than object strenuously to course they intend to pursue, and has asked them to return the sheets. Wishes CD’s publisher would supply U. S. market with large numbers of copies, as the English edition could well compete with any American one. Encloses [statement of sales of U. S. edition of Origin to 1 February 1866].

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Cambridge Mass.
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff. 149–150); DAR 159: 80
Physical description
3pp † encl 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5160,” accessed on 22 September 2020,

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