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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Murray   18 October [1866]1

50A, Albemarle St. | W.

Oct. 18

My Dear Sir

After publishing for you two such works as the Origin of Species & the Orchids I can have no hesitation in offering at once, even without seeing the MS.S to publish your “Domesticated Animals” on the same terms as I publish the Origin— viz paying you a sum equal to 23 d of the profits—for every edition consistent with the number of copies2

If this be satisfactory to you I shall of course pay Mr Wells Bill, as I have done that of Mr Sowerby—including them in the expences of the works.3

I shall not lose sight of Dr Asa Greys suggestions— I have no objection to let Mess Ticknor & Field know that they can have 250 copies of the new Edition at half price—4

I could supply them either with early sheets of your new Book or with stereotype plates if they prefer them

I remain My Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | John Murray

Chas Darwin Esqr

CD annotations

End of letter: ‘This was [above del ‘shall be’] changed into half-profits, I think’5 pencil


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to John Murray, 16 October [1866].
The works referred to are the first four editions of Origin, Orchids, and Variation. For the terms of CD’s agreement with John Murray for Origin, see the letter from John Murray, 24 February [1866] and n. 4.
Murray refers to Luke Wells and George Brettingham Sowerby Jr, both of whom provided illustrations for Variation. See letter to John Murray, 16 October [1866].
Ticknor & Fields was a Boston firm that Asa Gray had approached about publishing Origin and Variation (see letter to John Murray, 16 October [1866] and n. 4).
Murray later told CD that although he was prepared to publish his new book (Variation), he would offer CD only half the profits rather than two-thirds because he felt he was taking a greater risk in publishing a work that would have less popular appeal than Origin. See Correspondence vol. 15, letter from John Murray, 28 January [1867].


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

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.


JM states he will publish [Variation] on same basis as Origin, i.e., paying CD two-thirds of the profits.

In response to Asa Gray’s suggestion, he could supply Ticknor & Fields with 250 copies [of Origin, 4th ed.] at half-price.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Murray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Albemarle St, 50a
Source of text
DAR 171: 338
Physical description
2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5246,” accessed on 22 January 2022,

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