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Darwin Correspondence Project

To R. F. Cooke   11 April 1877

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

April 11th— 77

My dear Sir

I wish the accompanying M.S. to be published; & though I believe it is of value, it is not likely that more than a few hundred copies wd. be sold, unless indeed those who possess my other books wish to complete the series.1

As far as I can at present see this will be my last book.2

Under these circumstances I wish Mr Murray to consider whether he will publish it on the usual terms; or if not, whether he will publish it on commission for me.3

If on commission, I think he is bound to publish it on as favourab[le] terms as he can afford, seeing that my other books have sold well.

I must beg him to let me have an early answer.

If you will read my letter to Messrs Clowes, you will see how I wish the book to be set up.4 There are 15 wood-cuts, 4 of which I have used in my papers & which will be sent (or perhaps have been sent) to you from Messrs Taylor & Francis, & they must hereafter be returned to them.5

I have agreed with Mr Cooper for the engraving of ten of the others for £9£.6s.6d; so that the 11 will cost about £10.6

Believe me my dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


CD enclosed the manuscript for Forms of flowers; the first edition of 1250 copies was published on 9 July 1877 (Freeman 1977).
CD wrote two further books, Movement in plants and Earthworms.
John Murray usually published CD’s books at his own expense and paid CD a percentage of the profits on publication (an advance against royalties). On CD’s astute management of royalty payments for his books, see Browne 2002, pp. 97, 461.
CD’s letter to William Clowes & Sons, printers to Murray, has not been found.
Taylor & Francis were printers to the Linnean Society, which had published CD’s earlier botanical papers. CD reworked material from ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’, ‘Two forms in species of Linum’, ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’, ‘Specific difference in Primula’, and ‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’ for Forms of flowers.
No letter from CD to James Davis Cooper on the subject of engravings for Forms of flowers has been found, but on 30 July 1877, CD recorded a payment to Cooper of £13 6s. 6d. in his Account books–banking account (Down House MS).


Browne, Janet. 2002. Charles Darwin. The power of place. Volume II of a biography. London: Pimlico.

Earthworms: The formation of vegetable mould through the action of worms: with observations on their habits. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1881.

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’: On the character and hybrid-like nature of the offspring from the illegitimate unions of dimorphic and trimorphic plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 20 February 1868.] Journal of the Linnean Society of London (Botany) 10 (1869): 393–437.

Movement in plants: The power of movement in plants. By Charles Darwin. Assisted by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1880.


Sends MS [of Forms of flowers]. Since sale is likely to be small, Murray may not want to publish it on usual terms. CD thinks it may be his last book and asks Murray to publish it on most favourable terms he can afford.

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. 304–5)
Physical description
LS(A) 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10926,” accessed on 9 February 2023,