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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Smith, Elder & Co   17 December [1873]1

Dec. 17.

Smith & Elder

Dear Sir

During the several years my friends have occasionally tried in vain to procure a copy of my work on Coral Reef;2 & the other day my son3 was in Macmillan shop in Cambridge4 & the foreman said he had inserted for 3 years advertisements, sent to all parts of England & the continent for a copy, & had only just received one from Berlin. He suggested that the book ought to be republished, & this leads me to ask you whether you are inclined to do so. I think if printed (except the appendix) in rather better type & style, it wd sell immediately; but I had better say at once that I am so much engaged that I cannot undertake correcting the proofs.—5 Possibly I could add a few notes.— If you are not inclined to run the risk, will you let me have at a moderate price the 3 copper plates, & wood-blocks if the latter have been preserved. In this case I wd try to persuade Mr Murray6 to publish a new Ed. sharing any profit with him if there shd be any; but I cannot say that I have much hope of success. Yet as I regret that the book cannot be procured by the public, I wd make the attempt

Begging for an answer, I am, | Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Smith, Elder & Co, 8 January 1874 (Correspondence vol. 22).
The Macmillan bookshop was at 1 Trinity Street, Cambridge (Harrod & Co.’s directory of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire 1873).
CD had been correcting Descent for a second edition since 20 November 1873 and had also been working on Insectivorous plants (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). A new edition of Coral reefs, published by Smith, Elder & Co, appeared in June 1874 (Publishers’ Circular, 1 July 1874, p. 420).
John Murray.


Coral reefs: The structure and distribution of coral reefs. Being the first part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1842.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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

Harrod & Co.’s directory of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire: J. G. Harrod and Co.’s postal and commercial directory of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. 2d edition. Norwich: Harrod & Co. 1873.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.


Suggests that his Coral reefs be republished.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Smith, Elder & Co
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 96: 159–60
Physical description
AdraftS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9181,” accessed on 23 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21