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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Murray   8 November [1869]1

50, Albemarle St. | W.

Novr 8th

My Dear Sir

I have no recollection of my having taken any part in the arrangement with Masson for the French Translation of the Origin, beyond that of securing for you the copyright in France & depositing a copy. Nor is any trace beyond this, to be found in my books—2

Unless you received money from Masson, & signed some Document it seems to me there is nothing to bind you.

As regards any transfer of your rights to Reinwald—in the Fifth Edition, I fear they have fallen through—because the three months prescribed for registry after publication of this Edn have lapsed, now some time3

Still this need not prevent Reinwald publishing, if you have not arranged with Masson as aforesaid: The lapse of time wd now allow Masson to translate even the additions to the 5th. Edn. I suspect—4

Chas Darwin Esqre


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to John Murray, 8 November [1869].
The only extant correspondence between Murray and CD regarding the French translation of Origin is CD’s request to have a copy of the third edition sent to Clémence Auguste Royer in September 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to John Murray, 10 September [1861]). Victor Masson was one of the publishers of Royer trans. 1862 and 1866, and the sole publisher of Royer trans. 1870.
Murray evidently refers to practices resulting from the International Copyright Act of 1852; see Nowell-Smith 1968, pp. 32–3. The fifth edition of Origin was published in June 1869 (letter from R. F. Cooke, 22 June 1869). Murray refers to Charles-Ferdinand Reinwald.
Reinwald eventually published Jean Jacques Moulinié’s translation of the fifth edition (Moulinié trans. 1873).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Nowell-Smith, Simon. 1968. International copyright law and the publisher in the reign of Queen Victoria. Oxford: Clarendon 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.


JM advises CD regarding his relations with Masson, the French publisher of the Origin [1866], and the possibility of Reinwald’s publishing a translation of the 5th edition.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Murray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Albemarle St, 50
Source of text
DAR 171: 373
Physical description
AL 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6978,” accessed on 29 September 2023,

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