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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   3 May 1875

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

May 3 1875

My dear Sir

If Messrs Clowes cannot keep up the type for a sufficient time for you to judge of the sale; though I shd expect whatever sale there may be wd be too slow & gradual for any judgment.1 In this case what do you say to the following proposal: To calculate the price of the book on 1000 copies, but to allow me to have 250 additional copies printed off, I paying the prime cost only of the paper & press-work.

You not to repay me until the 1000 are sold off, & the profits of the extra 250 to be divided between us in the usual manner—   I make this proposal from not thinking it probable that there will ever be a 2nd ed. & thinking it just possible that more than 1000 copies will be ultimately sold.2

I presume the mere paper & press-work for 250 copies wd not be a large sum; but I dare say you could tell me approximately

yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


Murray had suggested that his printers William Clowes & Sons keep Insectivorous plants in type for a time in case the demand for the book exceeded a thousand copies (see letter from John Murray, 1 May [1875]). Contrary to CD’s expectations, two thousand more copies were printed in 1875 and another thousand in 1876 (Freeman 1977).
On 23 November 1875, CD noted that he had received £560 from the sales of the book (CD’s Account books–banking account (Down House MS)). A second edition, edited by Francis Darwin, was published in 1888 (Freeman 1977).


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.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.


CD proposes setting price [of Insectivorous plants] on a printing of 1000 copies, but to have 250 additional copies printed – with CD paying for paper and press work. JM would not repay CD until 1000 are sold; and profits on the 250 to be divided as usual. CD proposes this because he does not think a second edition will ever be needed.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 310–11)
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9967,” accessed on 16 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23