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Darwin Correspondence Project

To R. F. Cooke   16 September 1876

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Sep. 16. 76

My dear Sir,

I have just received proofs in sheet of five sheets, so you will have to decide soon how many copies will have to be struck off.1 I do not know what to advise.

The greater part of the book is extremely dry & the whole on a special subject. Nevertheless I am convinced that the book is of value, and I am convinced that for many years copies will be occasionally sold. Judging from the Sale of my former books and from supposing that some persons will purchase it to complete the set of all my works, I would suggest 1,500. But you must be guided by your larger experience.2 I will only repeat that I am convinced the book is of some permanent value.—

Secondly, will you be so good as immediately to find out some person capable of making a good index, and have the sheets as printed off sent to him. The index need not be a very long one, but will be difficult to make. I enclose some instructions for the maker.3 I hope that you will attend to this point so that there may be no delay in the publication; about which I am anxious. Pray avoid any dilatory man.—

Thirdly, Messrs. Appleton have agreed to publish an American edition of the present book & of the 2nd. Edit. of the Orchids, (which I am very desirous of) if you will supply them with stereotype plates of the type as on former occasions.4

Please to mention this to Mr Murray. They express a strong wish that the plates should be sent as soon as possible, as there is considerable delay in printing off, & the sale then largely depends upon early publication.

My dear Sir, | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Please let me hear from you before very long.


CD had received the first proof-sheets of Cross and self fertilisation on 19 August 1876 and recorded having finished going over the proofs by 21 October 1876 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Cross and self fertilisation was published in December 1876 in an edition of 1500 copies, all of which were sold by the end of the year (DAR 210.11: 6).
The index was eleven pages long when printed (Cross and self fertilisation, pp. 471–82). The indexer has not been identified and the instructions have not been found.
CD’s publisher, John Murray, had regularly provided stereotype plates to CD’s US publisher, D. Appleton & Co., at a small percentage over cost (see Correspondence vol. 23, letter from R. F. Cooke, 24 May 1875). Cross and self fertilisation US ed. and Orchids 2d US ed. were published in 1877.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

Cross and self fertilisation US ed.: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. New York: D. Appleton and Company. 1877.

Orchids 2d US ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. New York: D. Appleton and Company. 1877.


Convinced Cross and self fertilisation is of permanent value, though an extremely dry, special subject. Thinks it will sell for many years and suggests a printing of 1500 copies. Asks that a good indexer be found and put to work. Appleton has agreed to publish it

and Orchids, [2d ed.], if Murray’s will supply stereotype plates.

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. 308–9)
Physical description
LS(A) 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10603,” accessed on 22 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24