'I hear that Ladies think it delightful reading, but that it does not do to talk about it, which no doubt promotes the sale.' For the first time online you can now read the full texts of nearly 800 letters Darwin wrote and received during 1871, the year in which his controversial first public statement on human evolution was published. The extraordinary number of letters reflects the excitement the book – Descent of man and selection in relation to sex – caused. All 2500 copies of the first printing sold immediately, and 5000 more copies were published during the year.
'As for Mr Darwin, he is entirely fascinating…' In October 1868 Jane Gray and her husband spent several days as guests of the Darwins, and Jane wrote a charming account of the visit in a sixteen-page letter to her sister. She described Charles and Emma Darwin, their daughter Henrietta, Down House and its grounds, the daily routine of the household, and her own part in one of Darwin’s experiments.
Darwin is often quoted – and often misquoted. Here are some sayings regularly attributed to Darwin that never flowed from his pen. And one thing Darwin did say, but which is often quoted out of context to suggest, quite wrongly, that he had doubts about the validity of his theories.
For all his working life, Darwin used letters as a way both of discussing ideas and gathering the ‘great quantities of facts’ that he used in developing and supporting his theories. They form a fascinating collection from many hundreds of correspondents, containing diagrams and drawings, personal observations, photographs, and even specimens.
Read and search the full texts of more than 8,500 of Charles Darwin’s letters, and ﬁnd information on 6,500 more. Discover complete transcripts of all known letters Darwin wrote and received up to the year 1871.