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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   4 April 1874

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Ap. 4th 1874

My dear Mr Murray

I have at last finished after above 3 months as hard work as I have ever had in my life a corrected Editn of The Descent, & I much wish to have it printed off as soon as possible.1 As it is to be stereotyped I shall never touch it again.2 The corrections of the second Vol are in the hands of the copyist,3 & will be ready long before the printing of the first Vol is complete

I am sorry to say for your sake & for my own that I have found it impossible to avoid adding some 40 pages to the book. I say 40 pages at a mere guess, as the additions are written in a straggling manner,— many are in place of other sentences, & some whole pages have been struck out. The additions to the second Vol are less than a third of those to the first Vol.4 There are three new wood blocks, which I hope that you have lately received.5 Now will you be so kind as to arrange with Messrs Clowes6 of Stamford St. to begin printing at once. Shall I send in a few day’s time. registered by post the corrected sheets and MS for Vol I to you or to Messrs Clowes? I much hope that the present Edit is considerably improved.

Please let me hear from you & believe Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


CD had begun preparing Descent 2d ed. on 20 November 1873 (Correspondence vol. 21, Appendix II).
Stereotyping was a process in which movable type was set up and used to make a mould, which could then be used to cast a metal plate for printing.
CD’s copyist was Ebenezer Norman. CD’s Classed account books (Down House MS) record a payment to Norman of £7 5s. 3d. on 7 May 1874.
The first edition of Descent had been published in two volumes, with volume 2 containing material on sexual selection. Descent 2d ed. was published in a single volume.
The new illustrations for Descent 2d ed. were fig. 3, p. 17, the foetus of an orang-utan; fig. 52, p. 413, a male argus pheasant displaying before the female, and fig. 60, p. 438, the wing feather of the argus pheasant, showing the ocelli in an intermediate condition.
William Clowes & Sons.


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

Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.

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


Has finished corrections for 2d edition of Descent – "as hard work as I have ever had in my life". Estimates it is 40 pages longer than 1st edition.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 350–1)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9388,” accessed on 25 October 2021,

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