EXTRA LETTER: Charles Darwin Writes To His American Publisher
12th March 1860
Dear Mr Krugerschmidt,
As you are aware, I allowed my agents here in England to deal with the American publication of my work on the Origin of Species. Due to my pressing work schedule, I had no involvement in the venture whatsoever and assumed that this would be merely be a straightforward reproduction of the British edition.
So, it was with a certain amount of alarm that I received your letter dated March 9th concerning future versions of the work. When you suggest I write a second volume entitled Uh Oh, Even More Origins of Species to be followed by another called Good Gravy, Yet More Origins of Species I got the distinct impression you may not be treating my research and findings with the seriousness indentured within it.
With trepidation, I sought out the American edition of my work as published by your company ‘Krugerscmidt Laugh Factory Publications’. I was further alarmed to see the lettering used on the cover was in a font I believe is known as ‘Comic Sans’ and featured, at my initial inspection, nine exclamation marks of differing sizes. I’d like to point out that the British edition of the Origin of Species featured no exclamation marks whatsoever.
But this was nothing compared to the illustration adorning the exterior that appeared to show a caricature of someone, who I can only assume to be myself, naked, hairy, ape-like and apparently engaged in throwing a collection of my own faeces towards the direction of the reader. On the reverse side I discovered the following synopsis: ‘Hang onto your pith helmets as old Professor Yuk Yuks takes you on the wackiest, hackiest, cracking up-iest adventure this side of the ape house. You’ll be shouting “nuts to you!” as he tells us that we’re all monkey men. Hey, guess that’s why I love bananas! You banana!’
On a hunch, I contacted a bookseller in the city of New York and was informed that my book could be found in the ‘Humour’ section of that particular store. What is more the gentleman then assured me it was ‘selling like hot cakes’ and ‘a real hoot’. Now, I am not sure what my agents informed you prior to the publication of my work, but let me state unequivocally that this work is an important scientific research document and not a mere frippery for the amusement of Americans.
So, I’m afraid these future editions you propose will not be forthcoming from me. However, should you wish to find another author to produce this material, perhaps we can work out some sort of licensing deal. Science may be important, but there’s no money in it. My people will be in touch with your people.
P.S. Also, your last royalty payment reached me four days later than promised. Please ensure these are made on time in future.