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Darwin Correspondence Project

To V. O. Kovalevsky   26 March [1867]1

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

March 26th.

Dear Sir

I have much pleasure in answering your questions as far as I can. My work will be full sized octavo in two vols, each containing, I conjecture, about 500 pages; but the second vol. will be thicker than the first & I hope more interesting.2

There are 42 wood cuts. If you determine on a translation you had better negociate directly with Mr. Murray of Albemarle St London for stereotypes.3 I cannot ask him to give you them gratis as he publishes at his own risk & pays me. I have already the first proofs of 180 pages & I suppose the whole work will be completed in from 4 to 6 months.4 The first 6 clean sheets will probably be printed off in 2 or 3 weeks & I will send them to you by post.

I am much obliged for your brother’s memoirs which I have no doubt will interest me:5 his assistance will be of great importance to you in the translation.

With respect to an introduction to your edition I really do not know what I could say.6 You might yourself state that you received from me early sheets, & that the translation had my concurrence.

When you have occasion to write again, be so kind as to inform me whether there has been a russian translation of my “Origin of Species”;7 if not I still think that this would be a better book for you to undertake. I am aware that a russian translation of Dr. Rolle abstract of my views has appeared.8

Dear Sir | yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 15 March 1867.
Kovalevsky was planning to translate Variation into Russian (see letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 15 March 1867 and n. 2). The two volumes of Variation had 411 and 486 pages, respectively.
CD’s publisher, John Murray, recorded the sale of electrotypes of the woodcuts for Variation to Kovalevsky for £10 in September 1867 (John Murray Archive).
CD had begun correcting proof-sheets of Variation at the beginning of March (see letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 5 March [1867] and n. 2). Variation was published in January 1868 (Freeman 1977).
Kovalevsky had sent several papers by his brother, Alexander Onufrievich Kovalevsky (see letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 15 March 1867 and n. 6).
In his letter of 15 March 1867, Kovalevsky had asked CD to write a short introduction to the Russian edition of Variation.
The first Russian translation of Origin was Rachinskii 1864.
CD refers to Friedrich Rolle and Rolle 1863; Russian translations of the book appeared in 1864 and 1865 (Vladimirskii trans. 1864 and Usov trans. 1865).


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.

Rachinskii, Sergei A., trans. 1864. Proiskhozhdenie vidov putem estestvennogo podbora. (Russian translation of Origin.) By Charles Darwin. St Petersburg: A. I. Glazunov.

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.

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

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

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.


Answers VOK’s questions regarding the size of forthcoming Variation and gives his consent to a translation.

But if Origin has not yet been translated into Russian, CD thinks it would be a better book to undertake.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky (Владимир Онуфриевич Ковалевский)
Sent from
Source of text
Institut Mittag-Leffler
Physical description
LS(A) 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5464,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

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