skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Smith, Elder & Co.   8 January 1874

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Jan 8. 1874

Dear Sir

I am very glad to hear that you will publish a new edition of my Coral reefs; & earnestly hope that it will not ultimately cause you loss.1

I am coming to London on Saturday to have a week’s rest, & on my return home I will immediately see what notes must be added, & also about a short preface—2

After writing to you I suddenly remembered that you had lent me the wood-block for stereotypes for my Journal, & I am glad to say that I have found them, & they shall be returned to you next week.3

Will you be so good as to return my copy of the Coral reefs to 6 Queen Anne St Cavendish Sq— & tell your porter to enquire whether it is the right house before the parcel is left, as I do not know what I shd do if the copy were lost4

Dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The first edition of Coral reefs was published in 1842 by Smith, Elder & Co.
CD was in London from 10 to 17 January 1874 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). CD’s preface to the new edition is dated February 1874 (see Coral reefs 2d ed., pp. v–ix).
CD refers to images that first appeared in Coral reefs, pp. 2, 3, 48, 98, 100, and were later added to Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 466, 469, 471, 473, 474. These images appear in Coral reefs 2d ed., pp. 2, 65, 131, 133.In his letter to Smith, Elder & Co, 17 December [1873] (Correspondence vol 21), CD had asked to buy the copperplates and woodblocks if they decided not to make a new edition of Coral reefs.
CD had asked Joseph Dalton Hooker whether he had a copy of Coral reefs that he could use for corrections (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 January 1874). The London address was that of CD’s brother, Erasmus Alvey Darwin.


Coral reefs 2d ed.: The structure and distribution of coral reefs. By Charles Darwin. Revised edition. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1874.

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–.

Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.


Pleased they will publish a new edition of Coral reefs, and he will soon consider any addenda and write a short preface.

Will return the wood-blocks of Journal of Researches the following week.

Could his copy of Coral Reefs please be returned.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Smith, Elder & Co
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 43127)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9233F,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22