DARWIN (CHARLES)
Lot 135
DARWIN (CHARLES)
Sold for £7,800 (US$ 13,353) inc. premium
Lot Details
DARWIN (CHARLES)
Autograph letter signed ("Ch. Darwin"), to "My dear Sir" [his publisher John Murray], informing him that "They are printing my Book [The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication] in the U. States in such hot haste they will not wait for stereotypes of the woodcuts", but that he wants them "to have the Reprint on account of the corrections", asking Murray therefore to "send by today's Post a copy in sheets" addressed to Professor Asa Gray at Cambridge, Massachussetts [sic]; he also thanks him "for several parcels & letters forwarded to me" and promises to "call today or soon to speak about the little Book"; when he calls he would like to hear "about state of sale of last Edit. of Origin & new Book [i.e. Variation]", 4 pages, pasted onto an album leaf on blank third of last leaf, with a small tear affecting one word at lower right-hand-edge, slight time-staining, 8vo, 4 Chester Place, Regent's Park, "Wednesday" [?March 1868]

Footnotes

  • DARWIN TO MURRAY, ENQUIRING AFTER 'THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES' AND ARRANGING PUBLICATION IN THE UNITED STATES OF 'VARIATION OF DOMESTICATION', this being the only part published in his lifetime of what Darwin himself described as his 'big book' on evolution by natural selection (The Origin of Species itself being envisioned as being merely an 'abstract' of the longer work). The first English edition, illustrated with 43 woodcuts in the text, was published by Murray on 30 January 1868, with a second corrected issue appearing in February. Gray requested a set of "electrotypes of the cuts" on 24 February and the following day "a copy of the reprint". He was to contribute a Preface to the American edition, which was published by Orange Judd & Co of New York. In keeping with our letter, it was illustrated with woodcuts and not, as at first intended, stereos of the London woodcuts (in contrast to the Appleton second American edition of 1876 which did indeed use stereos from the second London edition of 1875). Darwin received his copy on 8 May 1868. A new edition of the Origin itself was soon to be called for, the last (the fourth) having appeared in 1866. The fifth was to come out in 1869, and is the first in which Darwin used Herbert Spencer's phrase 'survival of the fittest'.

    Our letter, which is not recorded by the Darwin Correspondence Project, comes from an album with other letters addressed to John Murray, to whom it is also clearly addressed. It appears to have been prompted by a letter to Darwin by Gray stating that the American publishers "will not wait for electrotypes of the cuts" (Letter 2563), to which the Cambridge editors assign a date of 17 January 1860 in the belief that it refers to the first American edition of the Origin. Were this the case, our letter could be taken to be referring to the American edition of the Origin also. But the reference in both letters to [wood] cuts in the plural makes this unlikely.

    4 Chester Place, from where our letter was written, was the house of Darwin's cousin and sister-in-law Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood; Emma's diary records that they stayed there from 11 March 1868 ("Came to No 4") until the 19th ("Down"), which would place our letter, written as it is on a Wednesday, to either the 11 or 18 March 1868. See illustration on preceding page.
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