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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Asa Gray   4 August [1866]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Aug 4th.

My dear Gray

I am going to write only a line to thank you most cordially for all the great trouble which you have taken about the new edit. of the Origin. From what you say it is evidently hopeless, & I am sorry for it for my own sake & for all your labour in vain.2

I will let Murray hear your suggestion of sending copies to the Un. States.3 Although the book is complete & bound, Murray for trade reasons will not sell it till November; but he promised to send a copy to you.4

I hope to begin printing my new book towards the close of the year & I will send sheets as printed in hopes that you will have the great kindness to agree for an American edition.5 What a misfortune for scientific works is your american plan of stereotyping.6

With cordial thanks | believe me my dear Gray | Yours most sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Asa Gray, 27 August 1866.
Gray was in communication with the American publisher D. Appleton & Co. about a revised US edition of Origin (see letter from Asa Gray, 18 July 1866).
Gray had suggested that CD’s publisher, John Murray, supply copies of the fourth edition of Origin for the American market (see letter from Asa Gray, 18 July 1866).
On Murray’s reasons for delaying publication of the fourth edition of Origin, see the letter from John Murray, 18 July [1866]. See also letter from John Murray, 23 July [1866]. For CD’s own presentation list for the book, see Correspondence vol.14, Appendix IV.
CD refers to Variation. Gray apparently forwarded this letter to the American publisher James Thomas Fields of the firm Tickner & Fields, adding the following note to the last page: ‘Cambridge 27th Aug. 66 | Dear Mr Fields | Perhaps you will draft me a line, which I can forward to Mr Darwin, to encourage him in his disposition to send on advance sheets of his new book. | Truly Yours | Asa Gray’. In the event, the first American edition of Variation was published by Orange Judd & Co. in 1868 (Freeman 1977).
On the process of stereotyping used to produce the American edition of Origin, see the letter to Asa Gray, 16 April [1866] and n. 11.


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

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.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Thanks for AG’s trouble about new edition of Origin.

Will be printing his new book [Variation] at the end of the year.

[Forwarded by AG, with covering note, to Mr Fields of Ticknor & Fields.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Asa Gray
Sent from
Source of text
Gray Herbarium of Harvard University (85)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5177,” accessed on 9 May 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14