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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   18 March [1867]

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

March 18th

My dear Sir

The Compositors have invented & placed the title, as on enclosed paper above the red line, at head of my Introduction. Now I think this sounds a better title than the advertised one.1 Have the kindness to consider the question & inform me. Does it signify another title having been advertised? If you thought it worth while, do consult Sir C. Lyell,2 as he has such good judgment & I have always found him so very kind, that I feel sure he would advise me.

I can form no sort of opinion about the number of copies to be printed off, & this a point which you will soon have to decide, as I have received two Revises.—3

I presume you will not object to my having two sets of clean sheets, one for Germany & the other to Russia for translation; though when the publishers see how big a book it is, their courage may fail.4 If translations are made, I suppose you would allow stereotypes of the wood-blocks to be made.

Be so kind as to answer these questions & believe me, my dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The enclosure has not been found. CD’s book, eventually published as The variation of animals and plants under domestication, had been advertised as early as 1865 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; see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to John Murray, 2 June [1865] and n. 3).
Charles Lyell’s geological works were published by Murray.
According to CD’s ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix II), the first proof-sheets of Variation arrived on 1 March 1867.
For more on the proposed German translation of Variation, see the letter to E. Schweizerbart’sche Buchhandlung, [19 March 1867]. CD had received an offer via Trübner & Co from Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky, to translate Variation into Russian (see letter from Trübner & Co, 26 February 1867, and letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 15 March 1867).


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

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


The compositors have invented a title [for Variation] which CD thinks is better than the advertised one. CD can form no opinion on number of copies. Asks that clean sheets be sent to German and Russian publishers for translation.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff. 167–168)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5446,” accessed on 24 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15