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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Mary Elizabeth Lyell   [19? October 1866]1



My dear Lady Lyell

I should be delighted & honoured by Mrs Somerville’s using any of the diagrams in my Orchid book.2 But it is more Mr Murray’s affair than mine.3 If this note were shewn to him I have no doubt he would give permission & do what is necessary.

Pray believe me yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The date is conjectured from the relationship between this letter and the letter from Mary Somerville, 30 October 1866, and the estimated time needed for post to go to and from Italy.
The letter requesting permission for Mary Somerville to use the illustrations has not been found. Somerville used fourteen illustrations from Orchids in her book On molecular and microscopic science (Somerville 1869, 1: 389–403). CD’s copy of Somerville 1869 is in the Darwin Library–Down House.
John Murray, CD’s publisher, owned the woodcuts for the illustrations of Orchids.


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.

Somerville, Mary. 1869. On molecular and microscopic science. 2 vols. London: John Murray.


Mary Somerville may use diagrams from Orchids [in her Molecular and microscopic science (1869)], but permission should be obtained from John Murray.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5249,” accessed on 14 April 2024,

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