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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   7 December 1876

11, Bryanston Square, | W.

7 Decr/76

My dear Mr Darwin

Why do you send me a new book which I must read when there are already so many things to be read and done that I cant get through a tithe of them?1 Sometimes I think I should like to give up work altogether and do nothing but read for a year or two—with gardening intermixed—but I suppose it would not answer—

Have I not heard you say that Appleton of New York treats you liberally in the matter of your books though without copyright. Do you know at all whether other publishers in the US print your books without saying anything to you or to Appleton? And have you any notice whether a larger number of them are sold there than are sold in this country? And are they sold at a lower price there?2

I am much interested in copyright and am asking these questions for my own instruction & should not of course mention your name to any one.3

I have come to the conclusion that our publishers trade in this country is a close and protected trade, and that they would do better for authors and for the public if they were to publish at lower prices. The English speaking people abroad will not & ought not to submit to their terms.

Is the right of translation into French or German of any real value to you?4

With many thanks for the book | Believe me | Sincerely yours | T H Farrer


Farrer’s name is on CD’s presentation list for Cross and self fertilisation (see Appendix III).
D. Appleton & Co. was CD’s US publisher. There was no reciprocal copyright agreement between the UK and the US, and US publishers often issued pirated editions of British books. However, Appleton published from stereotypes made by John Murray (CD’s British publisher), and paid CD royalties on US editions of his books (Tebbel 1972, pp. 291–3). For recent US sales figures for CD’s books, see the letter from D. Appleton & Co., 18 February 1876. US editions were cheaper than UK ones; see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to Alexander Agassiz, 10 September [1871 or 1873].
Farrer participated in the 1875–8 Royal Commission on Copyright (Alexander 2010, p. 120).
CD did not charge for translation rights, but he sometimes asked for a percentage of the profits (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 20, letter to V. O. Kovalevsky, 10 August [1872]).


Alexander, Isabella. 2010. Copyright law and the public interest in the nineteenth century. Oxford: Hart.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 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.

Tebbel, John. 1972. A history of book publishing in the United States. Vol. 1, The creation of an industry, 1630–1865. New York and London: R. R. Bowker.


Questions CD on sale of his books in America by Appleton and other publishers; copyright and translation rights.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st Baron Farrer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Bryanston Square, 11
Source of text
DAR 164: 80
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10704,” accessed on 4 December 2021,

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