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Darwin Correspondence Project

To R. F. Cooke   17 June [1874]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

June 17th

My dear Sir

I really feel unable to express any opinion how many copies of the Descent had better be struck off; & I can only hope that 2000 wd. be safe.— From what you say the price cannot be under 12s & I am sorry for it.2 You will not be put to much expence for corrections, for as yet I have not had a single sheet revised, & the corrections have been few & slight in the first proofs.— Mr Murray asked me to keep the proofs & send them to him, as a check to the Mess Clowes; but this has been impossible, as I have had only first proofs & these are of course returned to Printers.—3 The Printing gets on slowly, & I have not yet done more than 14r of vol.; & it will now be rather slower as I must send proofs to Germany where my son is going for health sake, & he looks them over before I do.—4

I heartily hope our new Edit. may be fairly successful.— I am sure that it is a much improved book.—

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Please send copy of my Orchis book5 to

Mrs. Litchfield6

2. Bryanston St

Portman Sqre


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from R. F. Cooke, 16 June 1874.
William Clowes & Sons were the printers used by CD’s publisher, John Murray. The first revise of Descent 2d ed., date-stamped 24 September 1874 by Clowes, is in DAR 213: 3.
George Howard Darwin was checking the proofs for the second edition of Descent; he left for the continent on 18 June 1874 (letter from G. H. Darwin, 30 May 1874; Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Henrietta Emma Litchfield was CD’s eldest daughter.


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.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


Hopes a printing of 2000 copies [of Descent, 2d ed.] will be safe. Regrets price must be 12s. He is sure it is much improved.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Francis Cooke; John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 340–1)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9496,” accessed on 24 September 2023,

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