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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   17 March [1845]

Down near Bromley Kent

March 17th.


Having heard from Mr. Lyell that you feel inclined to publish a second edition of my Journal, I take the liberty of addressing you on the subject.1 Mr Lyell has shown you a copy of the agreement by which I am legally free to publish with anyone, and I am bound to Mr Colburn by no other claim: I could explain by word of mouth a transaction of such a nature on his part, that nothing should induce me to have any further business-transaction with him.2 It was entirely through Capt. FitzRoy, that our work was published by Mr Colburn.— I should propose to shorten a little, in a second edition, the geology & natural History & add something to my notices on the Fuegian savages &c &c; though I cannot add much, as I did not take many notes, leaving the subject to Capt. FitzRoy: I apprehend the corrected volume would be nearly its present size without the appendix perhaps a little smaller: I hope to derive advantage from the notes to a late German Edition.3 Some few woodcuts might be added if you thought it adviseable.

The only difficulty which I see in the way of a second edition, is my ignorance how many copies remain unsold,4 & how to ascertain this or how their purchase, if as I believe, they are few, could be negotiated:5 I should be most unwilling to enter into any communication with Mr Colburn, & I am sure, from past experience, I shd not manage it successfully.

Mr Colburn has not for a long time noticed my volume in his advertising lists; & even if ⁠⟨⁠he⁠⟩⁠ had done so, the channel is an indifferent one: many people, to this day, believe that my work is united to Captain King’s & FitzRoy’s

If I may at all judge from the opinion of scientific acquaintances, I should hope for a considerable sale: I may mention, that Capt. Basil Hall, long ago, urged me to publish a cheaper edition.— I shd be perfectly satisfied to see my Journal in your excellent Colonial Library, or published in any other manner by you, which you might think preferable.6 I beg to apologise for the length of th⁠⟨⁠is⁠⟩⁠ ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ & I hope, whenever convenient to yourse⁠⟨⁠lf⁠⟩⁠ that I may hear your views on this subject.

I beg to remain | Sir | Yours faithfully | C. Darwin


Charles Lyell had talked with Murray about a possible second edition of CD’s Journal of researches (see letter to Charles Lyell, [8 February 1845]).
This refers to the incident described in CD’s letter to John Murray, 12 April [1845].
The notes were made for Ernst Dieffenbach’s German translation (1844). CD had asked that they be returned (see letter to C. G. Ehrenberg, 23 January [1845]) but they have not been found and may not have been recovered by CD.
According to Freeman (1977, p. 33) Henry Colburn printed 1500 copies of Journal of researches. In 1842 CD reported that 1337 copies had been sold, see Correspondence vol. 2, letter to Susan Darwin, [22 February 1842].
Apparently this arrangement was not made, since Colburn advertised the Journal of researches in 1849, four years after the second edition published by Murray (Freeman 1977, p. 33).
John Murray’s Colonial and Home Library was a popular series. Works were issued in monthly parts at 2s. 6d. before being published in bound volumes.


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

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.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.


CD has heard from Lyell that JM is inclined to publish a second edition of Journal of researches. His agreement with Henry Colburn leaves CD free to publish with anyone. Will have no further relations with Colburn. Discusses details of proposed revisions.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.354–355)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 841,” accessed on 2 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3