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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   8 January [1867]

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Jan 8th

My dear Sir

I am sorry to trouble you. I continue excessively annoyed at the absurd size of my book, more especially as I feel nearly sure that I can make a striking chapter on man & this will make it so much bigger.—1

A plan, which is often followed on the continent, has occurred to me, & which has some decided advantages besides reduction of bulk, namely to give details in smaller type; so that the general reader may at once pass over such details. Now in several chapters large portions, for instance all osteological details might be thus given.— I shd. not however like very small type being used. If, we will say, a 13 of Book were printed in moderately smaller type, would this save much? In some chapters there could be no small type introduced.— What do you think of this plan?

If you approve I will send for M.S. & mark with a red line all that may be printed in smaller type; but I shd like to see the two types which could be used.

In the Introduction, I have given a sketch of Natural Selection in 20 or 30 pages, for the sake of those who have not read the Origin; I could strike the whole of this out.—2 If you approve, I must know whether to send to your house or to Stamford St. for the M.S.3

I could mark all the passages in a week or so.—

Of course, if you think fit, you can decline publishing altogether, & I must undergo the trouble & disappointment of looking out for some other channel of publication.

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch Darwin


After CD sent the manuscript of Variation, Murray informed him of the projected size of the book (see letter from John Murray, 2 January [1867]). For CD’s anxiety regarding the size, and for his chapter on humans, see the letter to John Murray, 3 January [1867] and n. 5, and the letter to T. H. Huxley, 7 January [1867].
CD retained a discussion of natural selection in the published introduction of Variation (see Variation 1: 1–14).
The address of Murray’s publishing house was 50A Albemarle Street, London (Post Office London directory). The manuscript of Variation had already been examined by the printer William Clowes & Sons at Stamford Street, London (see letter from John Murray, 2 January [1867]).


Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


CD annoyed at large size of Variation. Suggests printing detailed parts in small type. JM can, of course, decline to publish altogether.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff. 155–157)
Physical description
ALS 5pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5350,” accessed on 25 June 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15