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Darwin Correspondence Project

To R. F. Cooke   29 June [1875]1

Abinger Hall | Wotton, Surrey

June 29th.

My dear Sir

I mentioned no exact price to Mess. Appleton, but copied out Mr. Murray’s words which I cd. give if at home, & which certainly were to the effect “at a little above cost price.” & I told Mess Appleton I thought it quite affair that we shd. make a little profit by the transaction. An American naturalist expects a large sale there.—2

I am very glad of the 14s, for though I much like making money, I care very much more about the wide distribution of my books.3

I am uneasy about the present work, & cannot abide the thought of causing you loss, but it is a comfort to me to think that you have profited by my former books.— If in a month or two, you have any fairly good news of sale, pray let me hear. I sometimes think a man is a fool who writes books, but this is a bad doctrine for the book trade.

We return home on the 6th. & then I will finish “Climbing Plants” & Variation of Animals & Plants under Domestication, & this latter job is a heavy grind.—4

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from R. F. Cooke, 28 June 1875.
Cooke had earlier told CD that John Murray was willing to provide stereotype plates to CD’s US publisher D. Appleton & Co., at a small percentage over cost (see letter from R. F. Cooke, 24 May 1875). The American naturalist has not been identified, but may have been Charles Valentine Riley, who visited CD around this time (see letter to C. V. Riley, 25 June [1875] and n. 2).
CD stayed at Abinger Hall from 3 June to 6 July 1875 (see CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). He had finished correcting Climbing plants on 29 March, when it was still planned that it would be appended to Insectivorous plants; Murray returned the manuscript for further correction on 9 April, after it was decided to publish it as a separate volume (letter from John Murray, 9 April [1875]). CD began work on Variation 2d ed. on 6 July, finishing on 3 October 1875 (see CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).


Climbing plants: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts & Green; Williams & Norgate. 1865.

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

Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.


Mentioned to Appleton only that stereotypes [for Insectivorous plants] would be provided for "a little above cost price". Glad the price of the book will be 14s. He likes making money, but cares more for wider distribution of his books. Is uneasy about sale of Insectivorous plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Francis Cooke; John Murray
Sent from
Abinger Hall
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 334–5)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10035,” accessed on 26 September 2021,

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