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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. W. Reade   3 May 1872

11 St. Mary Abbot’s Terrace | Kensington.

May 3. —72

My dear Sir

I was just going to write to you to ask you not to hurry about reading the book & to suggest that you should begin by reading from 387 to 463—such being the true commencement of the book, and also the Darwinian part— it is a kind of free translation from yourself, I fear with some errors: but I intend to recast the book, to cut out & transplant the African & polemical passages, & to make it a concise & well constructed narrative of Universal History—filling out the 4th. chapter with no dodging backwards & forwards.1 So I shall be able to make corrections— I shall not do it for a good while yet to come—& also add to my knowledge of history & science in the meantime.

I am very glad Mrs. Darwin likes the preface; a personal statement is always delicate ground. I fear that she will not approve of my tone in treating questions relating to religion. But in the work I am now on, my narrative of travel, I hope to reconcile some of those this book will offend.2 I have taken up the Religion of duty as the one business of my literary life; & shall endeavour to show that it is not inferior to Christianity as a religion of the affections, while far superior to it in all that concerns the intellect.

I took care the book shd. look well by stipulating with the publisher (who is frightened out of his wits) that it shd. be modelled on the Origin of Species. There is something very ludicrous in Mivart, your opponent, aping your title, your construction of chapters & summaries, & your binding—everything but your style, which he could not reproduce quite so easily.3 But it seems to me to be almost natural for a disciple to do so— My book is a child of your masterpiece & there shall be an outward resemblance at all events. Apropos of Mivart I wonder why they dont review you in the P.M.G. as promised— I hope to see the editor after he has read my book—& shall offer to do it myself if Morley does not mean to.4 The editor said he wd. send it to Morley. Perhaps he (Morley) finds it too scientific. I shall apply for your new book at the same time.5 I have no scruple abt. doing so, as though incompetent to deal with it, I know as much about it as the others on the staff. Lewes I fancy has had a split with them.6

With best wishes for your health believe me | yours very truly | Winwood Reade

Nobody regrets the death of apotheosis— Few people knew what it meant, I found: & young ladies suspected it was something improper7

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Preface (—Authorities)’ pencil


Reade refers to his Martyrdom of man (Reade 1872). There is an annotated copy in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 698). The page range suggested by Reade covers the last section of the third chapter (‘Materials of human history’), and two sections of the fourth chapter (‘Animal period of the earth’ and ‘Origin and early history of man’). A second edition was published in 1875.
Reade refers to his African sketch-book (Reade 1873).
Reade’s publisher was Nicholas Trübner. St George Jackson Mivart was the author of Genesis of species (Mivart 1871a).
See letter from W. W. Reade, 20 February 1872 and n. 3. Reade was hoping for a review of Origin 6th ed. The editor of the Pall Mall Gazette was Frederick Greenwood; John Morley had reviewed Descent for him ([Morley] 1871a). Reade 1872 was reviewed in the Pall Mall Gazette, 23 November 1872, pp. 11–12.
Expression was reviewed anonymously in the Pall Mall Gazette, 23 April 1873, pp. 11–12.
George Henry Lewes had reviewed Variation for the Pall Mall Gazette ([Lewes] 1868). He had given up writing for the Pall Mall Gazette because of a critical review of a poem by his partner, Marian Evans (George Eliot; Ashton 1991, p. 246).
Martyrdom of man was once advertised under the title The martyrdom of man and his apotheosis (see letter from W. W. Reade, 18 March [1872] and n. 3).


Ashton, Rosemary. 1991. G. H. Lewes: a life. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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

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

[Lewes, George Henry.] 1868a. Darwin on domestication and variation. [Review of Variation.] Pall Mall Gazette 7: 555, 636–7, 652.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

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.

Reade, William Winwood. 1872. The martyrdom of man. London: Trübner & Co.

Reade, William Winwood. 1873. The African sketch-book. 2 vols. London: Smith, Elder, and Co.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Glad Mrs Darwin likes his preface, but fears she will not like his tone on religion.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Winwood Reade
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 59
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8310,” accessed on 14 April 2021,

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