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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   7 June [1860]1

Down Bromley Kent

June 7th

My dear Sir

Will you be so kind at your convenience to tell me how the “Origin” goes off.2 & whether it is likely there will be wanted soon, ever, or never another Edition. I want to know partly out of curiosity, & partly, as I am come to a break in my present work, because it will decide what my next job shall be.—3

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin


The year is given by CD’s reference to coming ‘to a break’ in his work (see n. 3, below).
The second edition of Origin, issued on 7 January 1860, had a print-run of 3000. A note on the letter, probably written by one of Murray’s clerks, reads ‘1000 on hand’. There was no further issue or reprint of Origin until April 1861, when the third edition was published (Freeman 1977, p. 78).
On 10 June 1860, CD recorded in his ‘Journal’ (Appendix II): ‘Finished 2d Ch. on Pigeons. arranged papers for next Ch. & Experiments.’ He was preparing the first part of his longer work on natural selection, ultimately published as Variation.


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.


Asks how Origin [2d ed.] is selling and whether a new edition is likely to be wanted "soon, ever, or never". Asks partly from curiosity, partly because of a break in his work, and the answer will decide what his next job will be.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 f. 79)
Physical description
1p †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2824,” accessed on 25 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8