skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To the Royal Society   8 October [1856?]1

Royal Socy | Somerset House

The Bearer has called for the Books

C. Darwin

Down | Oct. 8th

Will you please also send me, Isis Band XXI Heft II. and Isis 1828. H. 2. (I daresay this is the same volume.)—2

Also Isis 1829 VI p. 639 | Brehm, Abstammung der Hauskatke.3


The year is conjectured from CD’s interest in research on cats (see n. 3, below), and from the day the Down carrier visited London. The Down carrier service, operated by George Snow, went to London early on Thursdays (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1851), so it is likely that CD wrote this note on a Wednesday. Between 1842, when the Darwins moved to Down, and end of 1856, when the library of the Royal Society commenced its move from Somerset House (Record of the Royal Society of London, p. 65), 8 October fell on a Wednesday in 1845 (when, however, CD was away from Down from 15 September to 26 October; see Correspondence vol. 3, Appendix II), 1851, and 1856. In 1851 CD was working on the proofs of Fossil Cirripedia between August and November (Correspondence vol. 5, Appendix I), and there are no references to cats in his extant correspondence. In mid-October 1856, CD finished the second chapter of the manuscript of his ‘big book’ on species (Correspondence vol. 6, Appendix III). According to CD’s table of contents for his manuscript of his ‘big book’, cats were discussed in this chapter (Natural selection, p. 25; the first two chapters of the manuscript are no longer extant). Cats are mentioned frequently in his 1856 correspondence (see Correspondence vol. 6).
Volume 21 of Isis was the volume for 1828; CD may have been interested in Christian Ludwig Brehm’s article ‘Ueber Columba domestica, livia et Amalia’, in part 2, pp. 135–41.
CD refers to Brehm’s article ‘Wo stammt die Hauskatze her?’ (Where does the domestic cat originate?), Isis 22 (1829): 639.


The bearer has called for the books. Requests volumes of Isis for 1828 and 1829.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Royal Society of London
Source of text
DAR 249: 111
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1970A,” accessed on 18 August 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18 (Supplement)