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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Murray   10 May 1871

50A Albemarle St. | W.

May 10/71

My Dear Sir

As the number of copies of the Third Edition of your “Descent of Man”, is the same as that of the 2nd viz 2000—I propose to you a like payment—but as the sale cannot be expected to be nearly so rapid, I will, with your permission, settle with you for it by two notes of hand at Six & nine months from the day of publication—1

I have bespoke from Mr Wood—4 new drawings of Birds to be substituted for the present ones, in case a 4th Edn. is called for. Two wch are finished are certainly great improvements.2

I remain My Dear Sir | Your faithful & obliged | John Murray

Your portrait is earnestly desired—by the Editor of Vanity Fair3   I hope Mr Darwin may consent to follow the example of Murchison—Bismark—Ld Derby &c   The artist Pellegrini is I believe a very decent gentlemanly fellow4

Chas Darwin Esq | &c &c


Murray refers to the second and third printings of Descent, which were published in March and April 1871 with small textual changes (see Freeman 1977). CD received £840 for each printing. For the second printing he received £210 in March and £630 in September (see letter from John Murray, 18 March [1871]). For the third printing he received £420 in November 1871 and £420 in February 1872 (CD’s Account books–banking account (Down House MS)).
Descent was printed a fourth time in December 1871 (Freeman 1977), but the new illustrations by Thomas W. Wood did not appear until the second edition was published in 1874. See letter from T. W. Wood, 24 April 1871.
The editor of Vanity Fair was Thomas Gibson Bowles.
The portrait of Roderick Impey Murchison appeared in the 26 November 1870 issue of Vanity Fair; that of Otto von Bismarck appeared in the 15 October 1870 issue; and that of Edward George Geoffrey Smith Stanley, the fourteenth earl of Derby, appeared in the 29 May 1869 issue. The artist in each case was Carlo Pelligrini, who signed the portraits ‘Ape’. CD appeared in the 30 September 1871 issue. The artist was James Jacques Joseph Tissot.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

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.


Offers CD same payment for the 3d issue of Descent as for 2d.

Has bespoke four better drawings of birds in case a 4th issue is needed.

Vanity Fair wants CD’s portrait by Carlo Pellegrini ["Ape"].

Letter details

Letter no.
John Murray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Albemarle St, 50a
Source of text
DAR 171: 398
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7750,” accessed on 17 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19