skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Andrew Murray   2 November [1864]1

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

Nov 2d

My dear Mr. Murray

I sincerely wish you success in your great undertaking—2 There can be no doubt about the value, interest & difficulty of a general work on Geograp. Distribution. I have long wished to see the distribution of plants & animals well compared. You will have much useful matter in Aph. Decandolle’s work;3 but, as it seems to me, the great difficulty will be in connecting by some natural bond a multitude of dry facts.

I really have no suggestions to make; I could not give any, even if I knew the plan of your work.4 Nor have I very recently attended to the subject.5 All that I can do is to wish you success & to congratulate you that you have now time for Science.6

You enquire about my health, I am still very weak after my long illness & suppose I shall ever remain so, but I am fortunate enough to be able to occupy myself for about a couple of hours daily with natural History.

Pray believe me | Yours sincerely | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Andrew Murray, 31 October 1864.
See letter from Andrew Murray, 31 October 1864 and n. 2. Murray’s book, The geographical distribution of mammals, was published in 1866. An annotated copy of Murray 1866 is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 624). Another copy is in the Darwin Library–Down.
The reference is to Alphonse de Candolle. His book, Géographie botanique raisonnée (A. de Candolle 1855), is cited extensively in Origin and Variation. A heavily annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 106–53).
See CD’s comments on Murray’s prospectus in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 3 November [1864].
CD last worked on the subject of geographical distribution in the years preceding the publication of Origin (see Correspondence vols. 6 and 7). He retained a strong interest in the subject, and continued to collect information for possible use in revised editions (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 [March 1863], and letter from J. D. Hooker, [28 March 1863], and this volume, letter to Alfred Newton, 29 March [1864]).
Murray’s resignation as secretary of the Royal Horticultural Society was announced at the general meeting of the Society on 24 January 1865 (see letter from Andrew Murray, 31 October 1864 and n. 3).


Candolle, Alphonse de. 1855. Géographie botanique raisonnée ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle. 2 vols. Paris: Victor Mason. Geneva: J. Kessmann.

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

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Murray, Andrew. 1866. The geographical distribution of mammals. London: Day and Son.

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.


Wishes AM success in undertaking his work on geographical distribution [The geographical distribution of mammals (1866)]. CD has no suggestions to make as he has not recently attended to the subject.

He is still weak after his long illness and supposes he will ever remain so.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Andrew Dickson (Andrew) Murray
Sent from
Source of text
R. D. Pyrah (private collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4649,” accessed on 23 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12