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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   8 November [1869]1

Down Beckenham Kent [6 Queen Anne Street, London]

Nov. 8th

My dear Sir

Will you be so kind as to inform me what were the exact terms, by which you granted for me to M. V. Masson of Paris the right of translation of my Origin of Species.—2 M. Masson has brought out a 3d French Edition, without having had the common courtesy to inform me, so that none of the numerous corrections in the 4th & 5th English Editions have been taken advantage of.—3

M. Reinwald of Paris now writes to me that he will at once bring out a new Translation of the Origin “if you have not already formally transferred to another publisher the right of translation for subsequent Editions”.4

You will now understand my motives. I have other & valid reasons (viz one blasphemous preface, & a second preface abusive of myself) for wishing that a new translation shd appear.—5

Lastly, if you have not granted for me the right of translation for all subsequent editions, will you have the kindness to send to me the proper form for granting permission to M. Reinwald to produce a translation of the 5th English Edition.

I am very anxious on this subject, so pray forgive me troubling you & kindly inform me as soon as you can.

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. J. Moulinié, 5 November 1869 (see n. 4, below).
The references are to Victor Masson and the French translation of Origin (Royer trans. 1862).
See letter from Victor Masson, 29 September 1869, and letter to Victor Masson, [after 29 September 1869]. The third French edition of Origin was published in 1870 (Royer trans. 1870).
The reference is to Charles-Ferdinand Reinwald; for the quotation, see the letter from J. J. Moulinié, 5 November 1869.
The preface to Clémence Auguste Royer’s first translation of Origin was strongly anti-clerical (Royer trans. 1862); a lightly annotated copy of the preface is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. The second preface CD refers to is that of Royer’s third edition (Royer trans. 1870); this included criticism of CD’s hypothesis of pangenesis, which had appeared in Variation. For more on Royer’s translations, including the prefaces, see Harvey 1997, pp. 62–9, 76–9, 97–9. For more on CD’s opinion of the translations, see Correspondence vol. 13, letter from C. A. Royer, [April–June 1865], n. 5, and Correspondence vol. 15, letter to Charles Lyell, 22 August [1867].


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

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.


Masson et Fils have brought out a third French edition [of Origin] without informing CD and without the advantage of the corrections of the 4th and 5th English editions. For this and other reasons CD wants to give translation rights for the 5th English edition to C. Reinwald.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
London, Queen Anne St, 6 Down letterhead
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 205–6)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6977,” accessed on 20 June 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17