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From Whitwell Elwin to John Murray   3 May 1859

Summary

Charles Lyell has asked WE to pass his opinions on the MS of Origin to CD via Murray. WE is convinced of the value of CD’s researches but "to put forth the theory without the evidence", as in the MS, "would do grievous injustice to his views". The omission of these facts reduces both the philosophical and popular value of the work, by virtue of its dryness.

Supports Charles Lyell’s suggestion that CD should first publish his observations on pigeons with a theoretical outline, for "[e]very body is interested in pigeons". Such a work would generate wider interest and be better understood. A subsequent, larger book would then be approached with impartiality "not to say favour" by a wider public.

Author:  Whitwell Elwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  3 May 1859
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42197)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2457A

To John Murray   31 March [1859]

Summary

CD has heard from Lyell that JM is inclined to publish his work on the origin of species. Will send some chapters as soon as copyist has finished. Sends list of 12 chapters. It will be a popular abstract of more than 20 years’ work. It ought to be popular with scientific and semi-scientific readers.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  31 Mar [1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42153 ff.12–13)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2441

From John Murray   1 April 1859

Summary

On the strength of CD’s details about his work on species and his knowledge of CD’s former publications, JM offers to publish [Origin] without seeing the MS.

Author:  John Murray
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  1 Apr 1859
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 41913 p.32)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2443

To John Murray   2 April [1859]

Summary

Accepts JM’s terms for publication of Origin. If, on reading the MS, JM thinks it will not sell, CD frees him from the offer. Will send chapters soon so he can judge. Though some parts are dry and abstruse, CD thinks it will be interesting to "those who care for the curious problem of the origin of all animate forms".

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  2 Apr [1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42153 ff.18–19)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2445

To John Murray   5 April [1859]

Summary

Sends title and first three chapters [of Origin]. Thinks first chapter will interest the public and is sure views are original. If JM thinks otherwise, he should freely reject the work. Chapter 2 is dull and abstruse, chapter 3 is plain and interesting.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  5 Apr [1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.35–35A)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2447

To John Murray   29 April [1859]

Summary

Will send first six chapters [of Origin] for the press. Sends data on size of MS and book. His "beau ideal" for type and size is Lyell’s Manual [of geology] 1st ed.

Important to his health to get the work printed quickly. Must leave home soon to stay for months at a water-cure establishment.

Asks printer to send a proof-sheet a day until he gets well ahead.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  29 Apr [1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.38–39)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2455

To John Murray   6 May [1859]

Summary

CD is convinced that the suggestions [for the Origin?] of both Lyell and Whitwell Elwyn are impracticable.

Will send first six chapters of MS next week. Has taken such pains with it that he hopes corrections will not be heavy.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  6 May [1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.57–57A)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2459

To John Murray   10 May [1859]

Summary

Sends first six chapters [of Origin] for the press. Asks JM to urge printer to keep well ahead of CD so as not to waste time. This is important for his health’s sake.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  10 May [1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42153 ff.56–57)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2460

To John Murray   14 May [1859]

Summary

Approves specimen sheet [of Origin]. Sorry book will be so long. Has now written half of last chapter; it is as long as his estimate of the entire chapter. Now thinks it will run to 6000 or 7000 words. Will do his utmost to improve his style. Anxious to publish soon; he knows of two men already writing on the subject, starting from his Linnean Society paper ["On the tendency of species to form varieties", Collected papers 2: 3–19]. Will send a diagram for the book.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  14 May [1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.40–40A)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2462

To John Murray   18 May [1859]

Summary

His health has suddenly failed. He is leaving home for one week’s rest.

Has informed William Clowes that he will begin correcting on the 27th.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  18 May [1859]
Classmark:  John Wilson (dealer)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2463A

To John Murray   31 May [1859]

Summary

CD’s diagram [for chapter on "Divergence of character", Origin] is indispensable.

Finds he will have to make many corrections, his text is so obscure.

A week of hydropathy at Moor Park has done him a world of good.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  31 May [1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.41–42)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2465

To John Murray   14 June [1859]

Summary

Finds style [of Origin] incredibly bad; corrections are very heavy. Supposes it was due to his attention being fixed on general lines of argument and not on detail. Wishes to share expense of corrections.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  14 June [1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Darwin: Ms.42152 ff.43–44)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2469

To John Murray   25 [July 1859]

Summary

Sends five sheets [of Origin] to printer. Incapable of forming an opinion, but thinks he has the style "fairly good and clear". Cannot conjecture if book will be successful enough to satisfy JM.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  25 [July 1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.36–37)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2477

To John Murray   31 August [1859]

Summary

Sheets [of Origin] up to p. 240 are ready. Asks how many copies and how soon JM will publish. Hopes as soon as possible because of his health. Bitterly disappointed at delay he has caused.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  31 Aug [1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.58–59)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2484

To John Murray   2 September [1859]

Summary

Delighted with JM’s suggestions. Asks JM to send sheets to Lyell.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  2 Sept [1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Darwin: Ms.42152 ff.45–46)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2487

To John Murray   10 September [1859]

Summary

On title of Origin, suggests omitting word "Varieties" altogether if JM does not object. Last proofs corrected, but revises still to do.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  10 Sept [1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42153 ff.20–21)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2488

To John Murray   15 October [1859]

Summary

Discusses presentation copies [of the Origin].

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  15 Oct [1859]
Classmark:  DAR R 143 (with R. F. Cooke correspondence)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2506

To John Murray   20 October [1859]

Summary

Cannot suggest an appropriate device or ornament for cover [of Origin].

Will send a list for distribution of author’s copies as soon as JM tells him approximate trade price.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  20 Oct [1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.94–95)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2508

From John Murray   2 November 1859

Summary

By this post he sends for approval specimen copy of CD’s book [Origin of species]. At 14 s., 1250 copies will yield £240, two-thirds of which will go to author. Arrangements for early copies.

Author:  John Murray
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  2 Nov 1859
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 41913 pp. 53–4)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2513A

To John Murray   [3 November 1859]

Summary

Infinitely pleased and proud of the appearance of his "child" [Origin, 1st ed.]. Thinks JM has been overgenerous in paying for his corrections. Offers to divide cost and regrets sending such badly composed copy.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  [3 Nov 1859]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 f.49)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2514
Document type
letter (28)
Addressee
Correspondent
Murray, John (b)[X]
Darwin, C. R. (27)
Elwin, Whitwell (1)
Date
1859
03 (1)
04 (4)
05 (6)
06 (1)
07 (1)
08 (1)
09 (2)
10 (2)
11 (4)
12 (6)
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