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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   21 and 22 December [1866]1

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

Dec. 21.

My dear sir

I herewith send all the M.S. excepting the last chapter which I can write before I get the proof sheets, & excepting a chapter on Man,—though it will depend upon circumstances whether I shall write this.—2 I fear I shall never get the book done by April3 & certainly not if I give the chapter on Man; but I am most anxious to begin at once printing otherwise I shall go on adding forever.

The wood blocks are ready except revising.4

Please to look at the enclosed instructions, about foot-notes & size of page & please be sure to forward the paper of Instructions with the M.S.

I enclose two titles for you to give your opinion which you like best,— that is if it is not too late to make any change.5

After going through all my M.S. I have come to the conclusion, which I am very sorry for, that the book probably will not have a large sale. Perhaps Chap. 1 wd give a fair & favorable idea of the interest of the first ten Chapters; but the latter chapters are the most valuable, though now illegible.

I shall wish to hear how large the book will be—

My dear Sir | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Dec 22d. P.S. I have just seen all my M.S. together & am utterly dismayed at its bulk; it must be two volumes I fear & large volumes.— The end of Chapt X or XI. wd be best division.— I add a mere list of chapters for your use.—6


The year is established by the reference to the manuscript of Variation (see n. 2, below).
CD refers to the manuscript of Variation. On his proposed chapter on humans, see the letter to William Turner, 14 December [1866] and n. 3.
CD may be alluding to the fact that Murray usually released new works only in spring and autumn (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 6 January [1867]). Variation was published in January 1868 (Freeman 1977).
Luke Wells and George Brettingham Sowerby Jr provided illustrations for Variation (see letter from John Murray, 18 October [1866] and n. 3). CD had asked Sowerby to make some revisions to his woodcuts in October (see letter to G. B. Sowerby, 19 October [1866]).
The enclosures have not been found. Variation had been advertised the previous year under the title ‘Domesticated Animals and Cultivated Plants, or the Principles of Variation, Inheritance, Reversion, Crossing, Interbreeding, and Selection under Domestication’ (Publishers’ Circular, 1 August 1865, p. 386).
The enclosed list has not been found. In the printed version, the first volume ends with chapter 11.


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

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.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Submits the MS of Variation, all excepting the section on Man.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Source of text
Herb Sewell (private collection)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5314F,” accessed on 7 December 2021,

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