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Darwin Correspondence Project

From R. F. Cooke   12 February 1872

50A, Albemarle Street, London, W.

Feby. 12 1872

My dear Sir

By post you will receive the 1st. copy of the new edition of the “Origin”, which we hope you will like the appearance of.1

The expenses of this reprint have far exceeded the calculations made when the subject was put in hand. The printer says it was nearly all rewritten & his charges are as if the work was all in M.S.2

The consequence is that when the whole edition (3000 No.) are sold retail at 6/– it will only yield a profit of £100;

The Students edition of Lyell’s Geology is pubd. at 9/0– & therefore Mr. Murray proposes to fix the retail price of yours at 7/6 which he thinks will be a very cheap volume indeed.3

We wait yr reply. | Yrs very faithfully | Robt. Cooke

Chas. Darwin Esq


The type-size used in Origin 6th ed. was smaller than for previous editions, in line with CD’s wish to make a cheap edition (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to John Murray, 23 April [1871]).
CD had added a new chapter, ‘Miscellaneous objections to the theory of natural selection’ to Origin 6th ed. (Origin 6th ed., pp. 168–204); it included material that had been in several different places in earlier editions, as well as much new content.
John Murray had suggested a price of 7s. 6d. for a cheap edition comparable to Charles Lyell’s The student’s elements of geology (C. Lyell 1871), but CD had hoped for an even lower price (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter from John Murray, 31 May [1871], and letter to John Murray, 3 June [1871]).


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

Lyell, Charles. 1871. The student’s elements of geology. London: J. Murray.

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.


Sends first copy of new [6th] edition of Origin. Expenses have been much higher than estimated because of extensive revisions. 3000 copies retailing at 6s would yield only £100 profit. Suggests fixing price at 7s 6d.

Letter details

Letter no.
Robert Francis Cooke; John Murray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Albemarle St, 50a
Source of text
DAR 171: 407
Physical description
ALS 3pp inc?

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8209,” accessed on 8 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20