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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   10 May [1871]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

May 10th.

Private ie. not to be forwarded

My dear Sir

I am very much perplexed what to decide about printed photographs & wood cuts. I believe the former would certainly be the best. I’m equally perplexed whether to try the Woodbury or Heliotype processes.2 You think the latter best; while Mr. Rejlander (who wishes much that his photos should be well given) feels confident that the Woodbury process is best.3 Dr Wallich has just been here & considers the autotype process (Rathbone) superior to either of the above.4 Would you make some enquiries with respect to the latter, as the knowledge might be of use to you on other occasions? Please to read the enclosed note, which is written so that you may forward it to the above 2 or 3 establishments; & my note will save you the trouble of making the enquiries which I want answered.5

You must ask for the return of my letter & of the photographs from the first establishment to which they may be sent. I am sorry to give so much trouble.

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. I shall want the photos ultimately returned to me.—


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to R. F. Cooke, 8 May 1871.
Oscar Gustaf Rejlander had supplied CD with a number of photographs for Expression, some of which were commissioned by CD himself. CD’s working relationship with Rejlander is discussed in detail in Prodger 2009.
CD refers to George Charles Wallich; one of his photographs was used in Expression (pl. III, figure 2, facing p. 202; see Prodger 2009, p. 114). The Autotype Company developed other processes for reproducing photographs; their offices were at 35 Rathbone Place, London (J. Moore 2005).
The enclosed note has not been found.


Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Moore, John. 2005. Celebration of innovation: a history of autotype 1868–2005. Wantage: Autotype International.

Prodger, Phillip. 2009. Darwin’s camera: art and photography in the theory of evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


CD is perplexed about illustrations for Expression, i.e., whether photographs are better than woodcuts. He thinks photographs, but does not know which process is preferable. Asks JM to inquire.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 278–9)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7749,” accessed on 3 August 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19