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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   17 August [1871]1

Haredene | Albury | Guildford

Aug 17th.

My dear Sir

I am going to beg a favour from you, which I know you hate granting, but as you have published so many books for me,2 I do not think it unfair to ask you. It is to publish a pamphlet at my expence reprinted from the N. American Rev. in defence of my views versus Mivart.3 Before receiving permission from America I asked Messrs. Clowes for an estimate for 750 copies; & they said for paper printing & stitching it would be about £15.4 I do not suppose that more than a score of copies would be sold, but I want you to send copies to all reviews, & to adverti⁠⟨⁠se⁠⟩⁠ it to the extent of £5 or 6 in Nature etc; & this is all the trouble that I should give you, as I could distribute numerous private copies myself.5 Please send me a line here as soon as you conveniently can. I suppose I had better send the copy direct to Clowes.

My dear Sir, | yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. How does the Descent go off?6

I have been very unwell of late & am still so & therefore do not know when I shall have finished the new edit of the Origin.7

Have you printed any more copies of the Descent? & how many?8


The year is established by the address; the Darwins stayed at Haredene from 28 July to 25 August 1871 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
John Murray’s firm had published the second edition of Journal of researches, the five English editions of Origin, Orchids, Variation, and Descent (Freeman 1977).
See letter to Chauncey Wright, 17 July [1871] and n. 2. Wright had published a review (Wright 1871a) in the North American Review of St George Jackson Mivart’s criticisms of the theory of natural selection (Mivart 1871b). Wright’s review was republished by John Murray as a pamphlet (Wright 1871b).
No correspondence with the printing firm of William Clowes & Sons about reprinting Wright’s paper has been found. There is an entry in CD’s Classed account books (Down House MS) for 24 February 1872 of £15 14s. for ‘Clowes printing Darwinism’ (Darwinism was the title of Wright’s reprinted paper).
Darwinism (Wright 1871b) is listed under ‘Books received’ in Nature, 26 October 1871, p. 500.
Descent had been published by John Murray on 24 February 1871 (Freeman 1977).
CD had been revising Origin since 18 June 1871; the manuscript of the sixth edition was completed on 29 October 1871 (see CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
The first print run of Descent was 2500 copies with a second printing of 2000 in March 1871; the third printing was issued in April but the fourth did not appear until December (Freeman 1977).


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

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.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

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.

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.


Asks JM whether he will publish 750 copies of a pamphlet [Chauncey Wright’s review of Mivart’s Genesis of species, North Am. Rev. 113 (1871): 63–103] at CD’s expense.

Has been ill so cannot say when he will finish new edition of Origin.

Asks about sales and printing of Descent.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Haredene, Albury Surrey
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 226–7)
Physical description
LS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7907,” accessed on 15 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19