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Darwin Correspondence Project

To R. F. Cooke   17 November 1871

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Nov 17 1871

My dear Sir

As you give me the choice, have 1000 of the Descent printed & please to see that the number of the thousandth on the title page is altered.1

As I shall make no alteration I shall put you to no expense.2 If the book goes on selling it will shew that it is worth a thorough revision.

Thank you for telling me about the sale of the other books.3 Proofs of the Origin come in slow: if the price is kept low I much hope & expect that it will have a good sale.4 I have asked Messrs Clowes to send me duplicate revises, as 2 foreign translations are waiting for correction.5

They have beaten us in the U. States in the sale of the Descent as some time ago they had sold 10,000 copies6

My dear Sir | yours sincerely | Ch Darwin


See letter from R. F. Cooke, 16 November 1871. The fourth printing of Descent appeared in December 1871 with the figure ‘eighth thousand’ on the title page (Freeman 1977).
In fact, CD did introduce small changes into the fourth printing (Freeman 1977).
CD, with the assistance of his son William Erasmus Darwin, was going over the proofs of the sixth edition of Origin. It was printed with smaller type and sold at the reduced price of 7s. 6d. (Freeman 1977, p. 79).
New French and German translations (Moulinié trans. 1873, Bronn and Carus trans. 1872) were being prepared from the text of Origin 6th ed. See letter to J. J. Moulinié, 12 July [1871], and letter to J. V. Carus, 8 October [1871].
The US edition of Descent was published by D. Appleton & Company.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

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 6th ed.: The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 6th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


Has decided that 1000 copies of Descent should be printed. Will make no alterations. "If it goes on selling it will shew that it is worth a thorough revision."

The U. S. sale of Descent (10000 copies) is larger than in England.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Francis Cooke; John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 236–7)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8074,” accessed on 23 October 2019,

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