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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   16 October [1866]1

Down Bromley | Kent

Oct 16th.

My dear Sir

I have heard the wood cutter has sent in his account to you & I now enclose Mr. Luke Wells’ account for drawing the same & will tell him to call for the amount.2

But as you have not agreed to publish my work until seeing the M.S. would you not prefer my sending you a cheque for the amount & likewise for the second set of engravings now being made by Mr. Sowerby.3 Pray do as you like.

I trust I shall begin printing in the beginning of next year but I cannot say quite positively— Please to read over the second page of the enclosed note from Professor Asa Gray & then tear it up; twice over he has urged the same plan & be so good as to consider it & act as you think fit.4 I may repeat what I said before that I have not the least idea whether my new book will get many readers; all that I can say in its favour is that I am sure that some of the chapters contain very curious matter.5

My dear Sir | yours sincerely | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, 15 October 1866.
The reference is to the wood-engraving firm of Butterworth and Heath. See letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, 15 October 1866 and nn. 1 and 2.
George Brettingham Sowerby Jr had made illustrations for some of CD’s other works (see Correspondence vols. 5 and 9). For CD’s interest in having Sowerby contribute illustrations to Variation, see the letter to John Murray, 22 February [1866] and n. 14.
CD enclosed the letter from Asa Gray, 18 July 1866; Gray had suggested that John Murray should supply the American market with copies of the fourth edition of Origin. See also the letter from Asa Gray, 10 October 1866.
The first printing of the first edition of Variation sold out in a week (letter to Alphonse de Candolle, 6 July 1868 (Calendar no. 6269); also printed in LL 3: 99–100).


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

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

LL: The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. Edited by Francis Darwin. 3 vols. London: John Murray. 1887–8.

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.


Arrangements for woodcuts [in Variation]. Hopes to be ready to print early in 1867.

Encloses letter from Asa Gray [5160] about Appleton’s refusal to alter their plates for a new edition of Origin.

CD asks JM to consider Gray’s plan to have the English edition compete with the American.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff. 147–148)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5245,” accessed on 24 June 2021,

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