In May 1856, Darwin began writing up his 'species sketch’ in earnest. During this period, his working life was completely dominated by the preparation of his 'Big Book', which was to be called Natural selection. Using letters are the main source for much of his research he amassed data, carried out breeding experiments, and struggled with statistical analysis. Several of his experiments: seeds would not germinate; beans failed to cross; newly-hatched molluscs refused to do what he hoped. Most significant in terms of Darwin’s future, however, was the beginning of his correspondence with Alfred Russel Wallace.
In May 1865 a dispute arose between John Lubbock and Charles Lyell when Lubbock, in his book Prehistoric times, accused Lyell of plagiarism. The dispute caused great dismay among many of their mutual scientific friends, some of whom took immediate action to mediate a solution. Charles Darwin had close ties with both men and both sought his advice, but Darwin’s correspondence during this period reveals his reluctance to become directly involved in the dispute.
What did Darwin really believe about God? the Christian revelation? the implications of his theory of evolution for religious faith? These questions were asked again and again in the years following the publication of Origin of species (1859). They are still asked today by scholars, scientists, students, and religious believers.
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 1872.
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